KBANK seeks partnerships in US
Kasikornbank is looking for business partnerships in the United States after entering a tie-up with Germany's second-largest bank, Commerzbank, last month as KBank extends its network beyond Asean.Somkiat Sirichatchai, a senior executive vice president, said KBank must look ahead to when the US economy recovers, noting that the United States was attempting to establish a free-trade agreement with the European Union.
Thailand might be required to open talks with the US on the Trans-Pacific Partnership as well, he said.
However, the links between European and Asean countries are clearer, given the growth in direct investment in this region by European companies.
Corporates in Europe see opportunity in Asean, especially the CLMV countries (Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam), from the up-coming Asean Economic Community, and they see Thailand is a springboard into CLMV, he said.
The AEC will open opportunities for significant expansion by European companies to offset the weakening of the euro zone.
Thailand has a strong economy driven by such industries as auto-motive, agriculture, consumer products and tourism. However, the country needs to shift from labour-intensive industries to high-value-added technology to escape the rising cost of labour.
European companies know this is an opportunity for them to transfer high technologies through trade and investment in Thailand, from where they can expand into CLMV.
Meanwhile, KBank wants to expand beyond the AEC as it sees Thai corporates exploring opportunities in Europe, he said. The lower prices of high-tech assets in Europe are attractive for Thai companies right now.
KBank and Commerzbank have the same business model of finding local bank partners to refer corporate customers. Their partnership agreement was signed last month.
Under the partnership, the two banks can refer their clients to each other. KBank customers that seek to invest in Germany or other countries in Europe can access financial services from Commerzbank, while the latter can refer German investors who want to do |business in Thailand to KBank.
Commerzbank has expertise in corporate banking, and has 1,200 branches in more than 50 countries and a customer base of more than 16 million.
Somkiat said KBank had more than 10 deals in the pipeline from the partnership. They include financial advisers to Thai corporates that are seeking buy assets in Europe and helping Thai companies find partners and new markets.
Construction materials and processed agricultural products are in the focus of big Thai companies that plan to invest in Europe, he added.
Songpol Chevapanyaroj, an executive vice president, said German companies with annual revenue of Bt10 million to Bt500 million are planning to invest in Thailand.
KBank currently has 35 partner banks in nine countries - Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Laos, Indonesia, Vietnam, Cambodia, Myanmar and the US - as well as in the EU, and two representative offices, one in Japan and one in Myanmar. Somkiat said KBank this year would have additional partner banks in Malaysia, the Philippines and Brunei.