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PETALING JAYA: Banking analysts see a positive outlook on the financial industry with the addition of five foreign banks in the country announced by Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) last week.

Analysts enthused on the liberalisation of the economy and remained optimistic about the prospects of local banks given that their competitive positions were not expected to be eroded.

A RHB Research Institute report had earlier said that there would be more competition in the industry but observed that local banks could thrive under a competitive environment. It said earnings growth momentum
was expected to pick up steam and would not be weighed down by competition.

“Despite the intensifying competition, local banks have increased their competitiveness. Although the situation will put pressure on  margin and human capital, local banks can still maintain their market share at around the current level,” the report said.

Several banking analysts felt that competition would spark innovation in the banking sector and provide a learning platform for local banks.

If some of the local banks do not have the capacity to undertake competitive measures now, they can adopt better processes in the medium term.

RHB Research Institute's report added that the entry of niche players may benefit the sector in the long term as expertise and know-how would be transferred to the local banks, further strengthening their competitiveness internationally.

On the incumbent foreign banks, an analyst said there will be minimal to zero impact on established foreign
banks, such as HSBC and Citibank, but competition would likely affect smaller foreign banks directly, adding
that the new foreign banks were likely to focus on serving corporate clients and offering treasury products.

In assessing the applications, BNM said it had taken into consideration the financial strength, track record, expertise, business plan and potential contribution towards the development of the financial sector in Malaysia.

“The new commercial banks are expected to add to the diversity of the financial services industry; support new areas of growth, including green technology; and facilitate the transformation of the Malaysian economy towards achieving high value-added and high income economy status.

"The presence of these banks will also enhance Malaysia’s international linkages through facilitating international trade and investment flows between Malaysia and other  parts of the world,” BNM said in a statement.

The five commercial banking licences would be issued to BNP Paribas SA (France), Mizuho Corporate Bank (Japan), National Bank of Abu Dhabi (United Arab Emirates), PT Bank Mandiri (Persero) Tbk (Indonesia) and Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation (Japan). Two licences for Islamic banks will also be issued by BNM soon.


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