KBZ Bank, Myanmar’s leading private bank, will open a representative office in Thailand later this year to cash in on the Asean Economic Community.
The rep office will be the first step of the bank in establishing its presence in Southeast Asia and beyond, said Than Cho, senior managing director.
The bank disclosed earlier a plan to open an office in Singapore.
He said the Bank of Thailand has officially awarded the rep office licence and the Myanmar bank would reveal the location and opening date in the near future.
The presence in Thailand will help the bank build relations with Thai businesses and cater to the three million Myanmar migrant workers in the Kingdom, he said.
“As the largest bank in Myanmar, we are able to use our extensive knowledge of the country’s financial markets to encourage and promote trade, as well as provide advisory services to Thai businesses looking to enter Myanmar,” he said.
The new office could play a key role in helping Myanmar reintegrate into the global business community, he said.
“The long-standing relationship between the two countries |offers ample opportunities to collaborate across various sectors in the region.
“We have long been a leading financial institution in Myanmar, and are prepared to represent the country alongside our international industry peers,” he added.
KBZ operates over 300 branches and 350 ATMs and over 80 currency exchange counters in Myanmar.
It is the flagship business of Kanbawza (KBZ) Group of Companies, which last year clinched a IT deal with Microsoft, in a move to modernise its IT infrastructure – firstly at the bank.
Local banks in Myanmar are adjusting to the new environment with the entry of foreign banks.
In 2014, the Central Bank of Myanmar awarded licences to nine foreign banks and four more licences were awarded in March of this year.
Among the winners are five banks from four Southeast Asian nations – two from Singapore and one each from Thailand, Malaysia and Vietnam.
To open the rep office in Thailand, KBZ Bank had to undergo stringent due diligence and demonstrate significant transparency as part of the licence application.
This included an appraisal of the bank’s position in the market, background information on its share
holders, the awards the bank has received and its accounts and investments to ensure its operations adhered to the guidelines set by the Bank of Thailand.
The representative office will be headed by Zeyar Sein Htut and will focus on activities such as market research, liaising with the private sector as well as serving as a source of information, including regulatory requirements for doing business both in Thailand and Myanmar.
Zeyar Sein Htut is responsible for corporate advisory at KBZ Bank and business development within KBZ Group, where he leads new business and investment opportunities, provides advisory services to all corporate customers and executes project finance transactions.
From 2009-13, trade between Thailand and Myanmar averaged US$6 billion (Bt211 billion) per year. The value hit $8 billion in 2014.
Thailand is Myanmar’s second-largest trade partner after China.