SINGAPORE - OCBC Bank and United Overseas Bank have been granted foreign bank licences to operate in Myanmar.
They are among nine foreign banks that received preliminary approval on Wednesday from the Central Bank of Myanmar to prepare for the start of banking operations in the country.
The licence allows the nine banks to offer wholesale banking products and services to foreign companies and joint ventures and domestic banks in Myanmar.
The banks now have 12 months to prepare for the planned opening of their new branches and will receive a final licence if the Central Bank of Myanmar is satisfied that they have met certain conditions within that period.
OCBC said in a statement that it has had a presence in Myanmar for 60 years, having first operated as a branch for 40 years from 1923 to 1963, and subsequently as a representative office in Yangon over the past 20 years.
"This new licence will enable us to contribute to the growth and development of the economy in Myanmar through the financial services that we will offer our corporate and institutional customers keen to participate in the opportunities for trade and investment in this country," said Mr Linus Goh, OCBC's head of global commercial banking.
"Since the opening up of the Myanmar economy in 2011, we have witnessed a steady increase in foreign interest across several key sectors of the economy including real estate and infrastructure development, commodities, power and energy, and telecommunications."
With a branch, he said, OCBC will be able to do much more. Foreign companies will soon be able to open an OCBC bank account in Myanmar and be supported by an experienced team of commercial bankers based in Yangon to support their banking needs for their local projects and operations.
UOB chief executive Wee Ee Cheong said: "The license will allow us to participate in Myanmar's economic development by deepening our onshore banking relationships. We hope to work even more closely with the Central Bank and Myanmar local banks to provide financial solutions for the banking community and multinational companies that invest in the country.
"UOB has always taken a long-term approach to building and deepening relationships. We look forward to strengthening our close ties with Myanmar's banks and businesses in the years to come."
The other seven foreign banks that have been granted the preliminary licence come from various Asia Pacific countries.
They are Industrial & Commercial Bank of China, Japan's three largest banks - Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ, Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group and Mizuho Financial Group - Australia & New Zealand Banking Group, Bangkok Bank and Malayan Banking.