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June 11, 2008

Maybank: No plan to buy a Thai bank

Malayan Banking Bhd , the country's top lender, won't buy a Thai bank this year as it focuses on integrating its string of recent acquisitions, Reuters quoted the bank’s chief as saying Tuesday.

Maybank has said Indonesia, Pakistan and Thailand are "must-have" markets to help drive its regional expansion, and recently spent $3.5 billion buying into banks in the first two as well as in Vietnam.

"With the three acquisitions that we had just made, we have our plate full already," Maybank Chief Executive Abdul Wahid Omar said in response to questions from reporters.

"We would obviously be keen to look at it, but not immediately, it would be much later ... definitely not this year," said Wahid.

Maybank also has a presence in Singapore and Brunei.

Criticised for being too slow to grow overseas, Maybank sprang into action in March, buying 15 percent of Vietnam's An Binh Bank for $135 million, and paying $2.7 billion for control of Bank Internasional Indonesia (BII) .

Last month, it bought 15 percent of Pakistan's MCB Bank for $680 million, drawing flak for overpaying.

Wahid said Maybank expects to get the approval of the Indonesian authorities for the BII deal by early next month.

"So far the early indications are positive. We do hope to be able to get their approval either by the end of this month or early next month," he said.

Maybank shares closed unchanged at 7.35 ringgit on Tuesday. The stock has fallen aboout 18 percent in the past three months.

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