Citibank seeks clearer picture on rural branches

  • Business
  • Saturday, 06 Jan 2007

PETALING JAYA: Citibank Bhd is waiting for a clearer picture from Bank Negara on the setting up of branches by foreign banks in rural areas before submitting any application, chief executive officer Piyush Gupta said. 

He said the bank was seeking clarification from the central bank on how it wished to develop banking services in under-serviced areas and thus, had not made any formal application for new branches in rural areas. 

“We would certainly do so once there is more clarity,” Gupta said at the opening of the Damansara Perdana branch yesterday. The bank’s Klang branch also opened yesterday. 

“We expect Bank Negara to decide on the type of expansion into rural areas that it wants within the first half of the year,” he said. 

Piyush Gupta (second from left) at the opening of the Citibank branch in Damansara Perdana. With him are (from left) MK Land Holdings Bhd executive director Datuk P. Kasi, Subang MP Tan Sri Dr K S Nijhar andCitigroup Asia Pacific Consumer Banking chief executive officer Ashok Vaswani

The two branches are the last of four Citibank branches approved by Bank Negara last year. 

Gupta said he was confident of the Government further liberalising the Malaysian banking industry.  

“Bank Negara has already quickened the liberalisation of certain sectors, such as issuing Islamic banking licences last year although they were originally scheduled for 2007. 

“So, if you look at the Financial Sector MasterPlan, I am confident that they will continue to liberalise quite actively,” he said. 

The bank said last October it would like to operate about 30 to 40 branches in the country with the aim of doubling its market share to 8% to 10% in three to five years. It has spent up to RM20mil for its four new branches in the past six months. 

The 7,746 sq ft Damansara Perdana branch cost RM5mil and will eventually have a staff strength of more than 30. 

On the outlook for the banking industry in 2007, Gupta said he expected this year to be “roughly the same as the last”. 

“All of last year, mortgage loans and auto loans slowed while consumer loans stayed up. 

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