Petaling Jaya (The Star/ANN) - Malayan Banking Bhd (Maybank), Malaysia's largest financial services group, remains interested in building its presence in Thailand although its immediate focus is to expand in the markets where it has a strong presence, said a top official.
Maybank group chief financial officer Mohamed Rafique Merican, however, said any acquisition of Thai banks would be based on terms and an environment that it was comfortable with and would not be purely for the sake of having a representation.
"We have a regional (footprint) now but Thailand continues to be a market where we do not have commercial banking exposure.
"Maybank is always looking for a right fit in Thailand. It is something that we will definitely consider and look at," said Rafique.
He said there was going to be growth in some of the markets that Maybank were already represented in.
"The growth in Indonesia, for example is going to be faster than Malaysia," Rafique told StarBiz after speaking at the ACCA Malaysia Annual Conference 2012 here yesterday.
Rafique's comments follow Maybank's recent private placement exercise which raised a record 3.66 billion ringgit (US$1.2 billion).
The exercise had fueled speculation that Maybank would bid for Thailand's Bank of Ayudhya following reports that the bank, CIMB Group and Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp were interested in General Electric's 25.3 per cent stake in the fifth-largest banking group in Thailand.
Maybank has since said that the funds raised are not meant for that purpose.
Currently, Maybank has a presence in Thailand via Maybank Kim Eng Securities (Thailand).
In Indonesia, it has a 97.52 per cent stake in Bank Internasional Indonesia (BII).
It also has commercial banking operations in Singapore, Philippines, Hong Kong and Cambodia, according to its website.
Maybank has said that it intends to have a complete banking presence in Asean by 2015, in line with its target to become a regional financial player.
Meanwhile, following Maybank's large placement exercise, banking analysts said that local banks were well-capitalised at current levels and were unlikely to engage in capital raising activities in the near term unless they were looking at significant outlay in that time frame.
The core equity capital ratio, which measures the amount of capital a bank has, is generally above 7 per cent for all banks in Malaysia.
This was healthy enough to meet Basel III requirements which would kick off next year, they said.
Rafique said Basel III set the minimum (requirement). "If we see growth potential, we want to be able to respond to it."