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NEWS UPDATES 1 September 2009

Malaysian bank to raise staff numbers in Singapore unit

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CIMB Group, Malaysia’s second biggest bank, plans to boost hiring in Singapore to grow its consumer lending business in the city-state, reported Bloomberg News.

The company plans to boost the number of banking employees to about 460 next year from 313 today in the Southeast Asian city-state, said Mak Lye Mun, head of CIMB Bank’s Singapore operations. It will officially start offering consumer banking products including deposits, home loans and credit cards at two branches from this month, he added.

CIMB, a unit of Bumiputra-Commerce Holdings Bhd, is growing its Singapore retail services after having made acquisitions in the region over the past decade. The company also owns PT Bank CIMB Niaga in Indonesia and CIMB Thai.

“We want to be Southeast Asia’s leading universal bank,” Mak said in an interview yesterday. “Singapore is part of the puzzle. We want to grow aggressively.”

Since the initial introduction of its deposit services, CIMB has grown those assets to S$400 million ($277 million) from a “negligible” figure at the start of 2008, Mak said. This will allow the company to boost lending to local companies and grow other businesses, including investment banking and capital markets, he added.

“That will hopefully bring on a lot of deals we couldn’t do because we weren’t lenders,” Mak said. “That’s our value proposition for the group.”

CIMB’s Singapore banking operations account for less than 5 percent of its profits currently and the company wants to grow the city-state into a more “meaningful” contributor, Mak said. In the first half of the year, Malaysia made up about 78 per cent of Bumiputra-Commerce’s income before taxes, according to presentation slides on the company’s Web site.

CIMB’s hiring plans have already boosted its banking headcount from 101 at the end of 2008. The increased hiring at CIMB’s Singapore banking operations will join additions at the company’s other businesses, including CIMB-GK Securities, in the island, according to Mak.


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