UPDATE 1-Malaysia's CIMB eyes banking licences in Vietnam, Myanmar

Wed Jul 23, 2014 3:02am EDT

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By Manunphattr Dhanananphorn

BANGKOK, July 23 (Reuters) - CIMB Group Holdings Bhd , Malaysia's second-largest lender, plans to seek banking licences in Vietnam and Myanmar as part of its drive to expand in fast-growing Southeast Asian markets.

CIMB, Southeast Asia's fifth-largest bank by assets, is also keen to open a banking business in the Philippines and is studying regulations that allow foreign banks to take full control of local lenders, CIMB Group Chief Executive Nazir Razak told reporters on Wednesday.

He was in Bangkok to announce that CIMB-Principal Asset Management Co has signed a deal to acquire Finansa Asset Management Ltd in Thailand from Finansa Pcl for 225 million baht ($7.09 million).

CIMB aims to open branches in all Southeast Asian countries by 2015 when a planned partial integration of the ASEAN economies will be completed, he said.

CIMB, which is seeking to acquire two lenders to create Malaysia's largest bank, has been the most acquisitive of the country's banks.

Southeast Asian banks have been on a roll, benefitting from booming property markets and double-digit growth in both consumer and corporate loans in rapidly expanding economies like Indonesia, Singapore and Thailand.

Myanmar may allow foreign banks to operate with a limited license later this year.

Separately, CIMB Thai Bank said the bank aimed for loan growth of 15 percent this year, after a 4 percent rise in the first half, on expectations of a recovery in lending demand in the second half as the political situation in Thailand stabilises.

CIMB Thai now contributes about 6-7 percent to the group's profit, versus a 5-year target of 10 percent, Subhak Siwaraksa, chief executive of the Thai unit said. ($1 = 31.7500 Thai baht) (Writing by Khettiya Jittapong; Editing by Michael Urquhart)

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