By S Navalan
PUTRAJAYA: Bangkok Bank Bhd, a wholly owned subsidiary of Bangkok Bank Public Company Limited, will have four branches in Malaysia by end of this year.The bank, which has its headquarters in Kuala Lumpur, opened its first branch on Jalan Bakri, Muar, several weeks ago. The second was officially opened in Taman Molek in Johor Baru on Thursday.
Besides Malaysia, Bangkok Bank is also making its way to Singapore where it is expected to open several other branches in the busy island.
"Another two branches will be opened in Klang and Penang by end of this year," said Bangkok Bank Bhd chairman Staporn Kavitanon.
The investment for the whole expansion would be about RM10 million, he told reporters after the official opening of the Taman Molek branch by Thai Finance Minister Korn Chatikavanij and Malaysian Deputy Finance Minister Chor Chee Heung.
Present was Bangkok Bank Public Company chairman Chatri Sophonpanich. Kavitanon said the bank's expansion to Johor was timely as the state was opening up to the world vast investment opportunities in Iskandar Malaysia.
He said Bangkok Bank was recognised as a niche services bank, catering mainly to trade specific financing, new project financing, working capital financing and term financing.
Its main concentration was on developing small and medium businesses, of which Malaysia was a large playing field for businesses of that size, he added.
"We aim to grow these businesses not only to excel in their industries but also make large waves in the international scene."
The official opening of the new branch was followed by a seminar entitled "Malaysia-Thailand Economic: Towards AEC 2015", hosted by Bangkok Bank, to identify key development industries between both countries and the business view of what policies and commitments required by both nations.
AEC or the Asean Economic Cooperation is an initiative to forge greater understanding among Asean nations in social, cultural, economic and security fields.
Abougt 300 business and government delegates from both Thailand and Malaysia attended the seminar.
Chatikavanij and Chor were present to offer their input and take into consideration the conclusions derived by delegates from Malaysia and Thailand during the seminar.
'Not losing any sleep'
Meanwhile, Malaysia believes its economic relationship with Thailand has not been affected by the current political turmoil there. Business and trade activities between both countries are going on as usual.
Chor said Thailand’s container trucks still entered the country to export goods via Port Klang and Johor.
“Malaysia is not worried by the turn of events there and we are not losing any sleep (over it) either,” he said.
Chor said Malaysia and Thailand had had a strong economic relationship over the past 20 years and it was unlikely that the current political turmoil would make a dent.
He said Malaysia was Thailand’s second largest trading partner among the 10-Asean member countries last year while Thailand was Malaysia’s fourth largest trading partner in Asean.
The trade volume between the two countries stood at RM50.8 billion as of last year with a balance of payment of RM1 billion on the Malaysian side, he said.
For the record, Thai investments in Malaysia also increased from RM128 million in 2007 to RM138.9 million in 2008.
Malaysian investments to Thailand were RM389.6 million in 2006 and RM148.7 million in 2008.
On whether Malaysia would receive more foreign tourists following Thailand’s political turmoil, Chor said there could be an increase but Malaysia did not want to take advantage of the situation.
Korn asked foreign investors, including Malaysian companies, not to be worried and assured them that their investments would be protected.
Stating that the turmoil would be resolved soon, he added that there had not been a massive exodus by investors.