Malaysia's Maybank to stop financing new coal activities

KUALA LUMPUR, May 6 (Reuters) - Malaysia’s Malayan Banking Bhd (Maybank) on Thursday said it will no longer finance new coal activities as part of a five-year strategy that will also see the bank committing 50 billion ringgit ($12 billion) in sustainable financing.

Maybank’s announcement comes after criticisms from a coalition of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in Malaysia and Indonesia for funding coal plants despite making environmental, social and governance (ESG) commitments.

“There’s no new coal financing going forward for Maybank,” Group President and Chief Executive Abdul Farid Alias told reporters after its annual shareholders meeting.

The bank, Malaysia’s largest lender by assets, will work with existing borrowers to diversify and achieve a sustainable renewable energy mix over the medium- to long-term, he said.

Abdul Farid said the bank’s commitment will go beyond green financing.

“It encompasses financial services. It will cover all our activities including direct lending or investment, arranging, syndicating, fundraising or underwriting and advisory services,” he said.

The firm also committed to achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

“Our deliverables in the area of ESG follows through from our sustainability journey taken over the years, including our financing commitments of ‘No Deforestation, No New Peat and No Exploitation’, (and) not providing financing to black-listed activities deemed not in line with the Group’s core values,” Abdul Farid said.

A growing number of global banks have been exiting coal financing in recent years amid pressures from green groups and a global energy transition.

Last year, smaller rival CIMB Group Holdings Bhd committed to phase out coal from its portfolio by 2040, saying it was the first banking group in Malaysia and Southeast Asia to do so.

Maybank said coal financing comprises only 0.2% of its total portfolio.

The firm is targetting by 2025 a return on equity of between 13% and 15%, a cost-to-income ratio of below 45%, and a dividend payout ratio of between 40% and 60% on a net cash basis.

$1 = 4.1200 ringgit Reporting by Liz Lee and Mei Mei Chu. Editing by Mark Potter