Bank of China to open Brunei branch in SE Asia expansion

BEIJING, April 21 (Reuters) - Bank of China (Hong Kong) Ltd (BOCHK), a unit of the country’s fourth-largest state-owned lender, has won regulatory approval to become the first Chinese bank to open a branch in Brunei as part of its parent’s expansion into Southeast Asia.

BOCHK said in a statement on Tuesday that the green light is in line with China’s drive to establish a modern ‘Silk Road’ trading route, creating economic and commercial corridors spanning more than 60 countries and boosting China’s regional influence.

The move will help its parent extend its network to the 10 countries in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), BOCHK said in the statement. Bank of China has also opened branches in Hungary and Thailand during the past 12 months.

The BOCHK Brunei plan comes after Asia-focused lender HSBC said in April that it had decided to wind down its operations there, including retail, commercial and global banking, as part of its global strategy.

Reporting by Shu Zhang and Matthew Miller; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell