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Maybank underlines support of international yuan use

By Wang Xiaotian  (China Daily)

08:22, October 17, 2012

Malayan Banking Berhad, the country's largest financial services group, has opened its first branch in Beijing and given its firm support to the future use of the yuan in settling trade between the two countries and internationally.

Abdul Wahid Omar, chief executive officer of the company, also known as Maybank, said: "Renminbi is a less volatile currency compared with many other currencies, and we believe it's a good currency to use for importers and exporters to settle trade."

Maybank already has branches in Hong Kong and Shanghai.

Abdul Farid Alias, its deputy president and head of global wholesale banking, said the Chinese currency is being used in trade settlement between the two nations, and that huge potential existed for future expansion of business.

Central banks of China and Malaysia expanded their currency swap to 180 billion yuan at the beginning of the year.

In March, the real time gross settlement in Malaysia was expanded to include settlement services in renminbi.

In 2011, the size of renminbi trade settlement in Malaysia expanded four times from the level in the previous year, "reflecting a growing interest in renminbi as a settlement currency", said Muhammad bin Ibrahim, deputy governor of Malaysian central bank.

Maybank's Shanghai operations kicked off yuan-denominated cross-border trade settlement with approval from the People's Bank of China in June 2011. It got Malaysian ringgit market maker status last year from China's central bank.

This June, Malaysia's central bank, Bank Negara Malaysia, gave approval to Maybank Shanghai to open MYR accounts for its corporate clients to further promote cross-border trade using ringgit as the settlement currency, making it the first and only institution outside Malaysia to open such offshore accounts.

Maybank officials said it now aims to become a leading "cross border" solutions bank in the context of strengthening ties between ASEAN and China by 2015, especially as a leading offshore provider of MYR and yuan cross-border banking.

Last year, trade between China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations reached $363 billion, an increase of 23.9 percent year-on-year, and up from $105.9 billion in 2004.

Malaysia's trade with China has been growing at more than 22 percent since 2000, and reach $90 billion last year. Abdul Farid Alias said he expected that to reach $100 billion by the end of 2012.

Earlier this month, Maybank raised 3.66 billion ringgit to fund what it said would be an expansion of its network in Laos, Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines.

China became Malaysia's largest trading partner in 2010 and Malaysia has been China's largest ASEAN trading partner since 2008.

In 2011, the countries signed deals on projects involving energy, infrastructure and communications, and China approved an application by Malaysia's central bank to establish a representative office in Beijing to facilitate local trade.

The central bank has also been given approval to invest in China's interbank bond market.

Banking analysts said they expect the yuan to continue to be adopted much more readily by companies in emerging markets, especially in Asia, followed by those in Europe.

Maybank's Beijing branch, which has a paid up capital of 200 million yuan, will focus on wholesale banking services denominated in foreign currencies, primarily in US dollars, said the group.

"It has always been our aim to expand our network in China, and the granting of a license for a branch in Beijing by the China Banking Regulatory Commission in May marked a milestone for Maybank," said Abdul Wahid Omar.

Apart from targeting Malaysian and ASEAN clients with investments and business in China, Maybank is also looking at profitable Chinese State-owned enterprises that have approval to borrow in foreign currency, added K.H. Cheong, its chief executive officer in China and Northern Asia.

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