OCBC is nation's oldest local bank

Few listed firms can claim as long a history as OCBC Bank. It is the country's oldest local bank: It was registered in 1932 after a merger of three Hokkien lenders - Chinese Commercial Bank, Ho Hong Bank and Oversea-Chinese Bank.

OCBC helped provide low-cost financial solutions to hard-pressed individuals and businesses during the depression, through its initial network of 10 branches across the island. Outside Singapore, it had 24 branches in British Malaya.

It has grown its network to over 630 branches and representative offices in 18 countries and territories, often through some of the most significant mergers and acquisitions in the past two decades.

It acquired Keppel TatLee Bank here in 2001 before a full integration in 2002. In 2009, to build its strength in the wealth management segment, OCBC bought ING Asia Private Bank, which was later renamed Bank of Singapore.

But its biggest move was made in China. It first bought a 12.2 per cent stake in Bank of Ningbo in 2006. Then came the US$5 billion (S$6.9 billion) high-profile acquisition of Wing Hang Bank last year, creating a robust foothold in Greater China.

Today, OCBC is the second-largest financial institution in South- east Asia by assets, providing universal services, including commercial, investment, private and transaction banking. Through its subsidiaries it also offers insurance, wealth management and stockbroking services.

It is also among the oldest listed firms here. Its stock was listed as far back as 1934. By 1970, its market value on the Stock Exchange of Malaysia and Singapore had grown to $183.6 million, with a median share price of $4.59. The counter is now a blue chip on the Straits Times Index, with a market cap of $41.16 billion and a price to earnings ratio of 9.77.

Business diversification will continue to drive the bank's future, chief executive Samuel Tsien said.

"My vision for OCBC is for it to become a stronger, more extensive regional bank as we focus on our growth areas and core markets.

"We will continue to present ourselves as a financial services group when we go out there so that we will be able to comprehensively bank with our customers."

Wong Wei Han

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 11, 2015, with the headline 'OCBC is nation's oldest local bank'. Print Edition | Subscribe