DBS gets nod to set up branches in Australia, with first to open this month

DBS, Southeast Asia's largest bank, has received much-awaited regulatory approval to carry out banking activities in Australia, expanding its presence to 18 markets around the world. -- PHOTO: CHEW SENG KIM  
DBS, Southeast Asia's largest bank, has received much-awaited regulatory approval to carry out banking activities in Australia, expanding its presence to 18 markets around the world. -- PHOTO: CHEW SENG KIM  

SINGAPORE - DBS, Southeast Asia's largest bank, has received much-awaited regulatory approval to carry out banking activities in Australia, expanding its presence to 18 markets around the world.

The bank will open its first branch in Sydney later this month, which will be headed by DBS Australia Country Head Helen Yap, DBS announced in a filing with the Singapore Exchange on Wednesday. Ms Yap was formerly Australian general manager for OCBC Bank.

DBS is the only Singapore bank which does not have a presence in Australia. Rivals OCBC and United Overseas Bank have had branches in Australia for a while. OCBC has one in Sydney while UOB has a branch in Sydney and offices in Melbourne and Brisbane.

The new branch will provide corporate finance, trade finance, cash management and treasury solutions to Asian and international companies looking to expand Down Under or Australian companies looking for opportunities in Asia.

"As a leading bank in Asia, DBS has a growing presence in the three Asian axes of growth: Greater China, Southeast Asia and South Asia," DBS Chief Executive Officer Piyush Gupta said in the statement.

"Australia has been growing in importance as a trading partner of the Asian nations, and an Australia presence will further extend our ability to support our clients as they expand."

The move into Australia will add to DBS' more than 280 branches, with key markets in Singapore, Hong Kong, China, India, Indonesia and Taiwan.

While DBS had no physical presence in Australia, it had already extended project financing to a handful of blue-chip corporates as well as fund a number of high-profile infrastructure deals. including the A$1.75 billion Port of Newcastle acquisition last year by Hastings Funds Management and China Merchants. DBS corporate clients are understood to include Lend Lease as well as Toll Holdings and Origin Energy.

Among Southeast Asian nations, Singapore is Australia's largest trade and investment partner, with the Singapore-Australia Free Trade Agreement in force since 2003. Eight of Australia's 12 largest trading partners are within Asia, reflecting Australia's strategic location and increased economic participation with its Asian partners.