UOB reports regional business growth as Asean trade booms

SINGAPORE - United Overseas Bank said it has serviced over 500 companies in their expansion across Southeast Asia in the past four years, reflecting the region's bustling cross-border business activities.

The Singapore bank set up its Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) Advisory Units four years ago and today the network covers nine regional markets, including hotspots Indonesia, Malaysia and Myanmar.

In Myanmar, UOB became the first foreign bank to offer onshore financing earlier this month when it announced a deal to help Rangoon Excelsior redevelop a Yangon hotel. UOB and OCBC are the only local banks among a group of nine foreign lenders that were awarded operating licenses by Myanmar's regulators in October 2014.

While developing markets in the region continue to draw attention, Singapore will remain the top FDI destination for Southeast Asia - a region that will see its total trade volume reach US$6.6 trillion by 2030, UOB said.

"Our customers tell us that they believe in the long term economic prosperity of the region. As a result, the demand for cross-border banking expertise in Southeast Asia has led to our FDI client base doubling in the last year," head of the FDI Advisory Unit Sam Cheong said.

UOB last year reported a 2.5 times increase in intra-regional loans between December 2010 and December 2014, with 52 per cent of the portfolio based in Asean.

Overseas wholesale profit contribution has also been growing by a compound annual growth rate of 16 per cent since 2010, and UOB now expects the proportion of overseas contribution to this segment to increase from 41 per cent currently to 50 per cent by 2015.