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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs      January 2011

Thailand HSBC plans new branches

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HSBC in Thailand is planning new branches to strengthen its business and boost outstanding credit card loans by 15 percent this year.

Wichit Phayuhanaveechai, the head of personal financial services, said the bank would focus on its retail business this year. The branch expansion is in preparation for more serious competition under the country's Financial Sector Master Plan, which allows foreign financial institutions a maximum of two branches excluding the head office.

Mr Wichit said a new branch to be opened in Sukhumvit Soi 55 (Soi Thong Lor) in this quarter would help HSBC to expand its three consumer finance products - credit cards, personal loans and wealth management.

Thailand's robust growth and strong consumption will support retail banking, he said. HSBC is projecting gross domestic product growth of 5.3 percent this year.

The bank has also targeted increasing outstanding credit card loans by 15% while keeping the card base unchanged at about 500,000 holders.

HSBC also plans to double its personal loan portfolio by year-end.

It expects a 25 percent market share in wealth management in the high-net-worth segment, up from 20 percent in 2010. The minimum deposit for Premier clients is 3 million baht. "HSBC is very competitive amid intense rivalries in the banking industry, with strength in the three core retail banking businesses and a clear market segment," he said.

Monthly earnings of HSBC's customer base are higher than for local banks - 40,000 baht for its credit-card holders compared with the central bank's requirement of 15,000 baht. Personal loan customers' income is about 30,000 baht a month, while Premier clients average six million baht in liquid assets.

In addition, Mr Wichit said HSBC wanted to open more branches following new central bank regulations. The second phase of the Financial Sector Master Plan will eventually allow foreign banks to open up to 20 outlets and expand to 20 ATMs nationwide.

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This year in Thailand-what next?

04 January 2011
By David Swartzentruber      

It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

The first issue that can’t be answered is the health of Thailand’s beloved King Bhumibol, who is now 83 years old. He is the world's longest reigning monarch, but elaborate birthday celebrations in December failed to mask concern over his health. More

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