ASEAN KEY DESTINATIONS
US Credit Crunch Fallout
S’pore’s DBS set aside $53.4m to compensate investors
DBS Group, Singapore's biggest bank, said it will compensate as much as S$80 million ($53.4 million) to some investors who bought structured products linked to collapsed bank Lehman Brothers, reported Reuters.
Separately, Hong Leong Finance , a small lender, also said it will buy back Lehman-linked mini-bonds from elderly and less-educated customers, while Malaysian lender Maybank said it has identified mini-bond investors for compensation.
The move came after hundreds of investors staged protest rallies in Singapore and the Monetary Authority of Singapore, the central bank, launched a probe against alleged mis-selling of these risky products by banks.
About 9,700 people in Singapore, many of them retirees, stand to lose most or all of their money after they bought Lehman-linked structured products from banks and other financial institutions.
DBS, Singapore's biggest bank by assets, said in a late night statement that it agrees with the central bank on the need to give priority to "vulnerable" customers and is fast-tracking such cases.
DBS sold S$360 million worth of structured products linked to Lehman to 4700 investors in Hong Kong and Singapore and will announce a final decision next week about the fate of other investors, it said.
The Singapore banks' decision follows a deal reached in Hong Kong last week whereby the territory's banks will buy back Lehman-linked structured products from holders at market value, as proposed by the government there.
Many affected Singapore and Hong Kong investors claimed they were told the investments were relatively safe and that they had been asked to buy the products when they went to renew their fixed deposits.
DBS said when these products were sold 18 months ago the financial landscape was different.
"Nobody could have imagined the extent of the fallout from the US subprime crisis, or the collapse of a venerable 158-year-old financial institution like Lehman."
Shares of DBS fell 8.2 percent on Wednesday, underperforming the 5.2 percent decline in the benchmark Singapore index after a JPMorgan report said Lehman-linked products issue could hit 2008 earnings by 8-10 percent.