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Foreign Banks in Taiwan Focus on SME Lending in 2011

2011/03/23 | By Ben Shen

Taipei, March 23, 2011 (CENS)--Foreign banks operating in Taiwan, including Standard Chartered Bank, HSBC Taiwan, DBS Bank Ltd., Citibank, and Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Limited, are targeting SME lending as a major goal this year, driven by Taiwan's SMEs' aggressiveness to explore overseas markets.

Standard Chartered will double SME lending across Asia, and aim for 50% annual growth for such lending to Taiwan-based SMEs this year.

Statistics compiled by Taiwan's Financial Supervisory Commission (FSC) show that local government-linked banks traditionally dominate SME lending on the island.

But increased establishment of subsidiaries in Taiwan and the Cross-Taiwan Strait Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) are motivating foreign banks on the island to compete with local rivals in SME financing.

After acquiring Hsinchu Business Bank in 2007, Standard Chartered has raised the number of branches to 90 and set up three SME centers, one each in Taipei, Taichung and Kaohsiung, aiming to find new SME borrowers and retaining existing clients.

Standard Chartered said that Taiwan is a base for high-tech and electronics SMEs, who have expanded into the Middle East, India and Africa, with such trend building new opportunities and niches for foreign banks to finance such moves.

Citibank said Taiwan's SMEs will require ample financing this year as they eagerly develop new markets, retool factories and engage in mergers and acquisitions.

A survey by Standard Chartered shows that Taiwan's overall lending to SMEs totaled NT$3.69 trillion in 2010, up 14.24% year-on-year from NT$3.23 trillion, with the bank expecting a 50% annual growth in such lending in Taiwan this year.