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  Fubon Financial Holdings, one of Taiwan's biggest private financial services companies, plans an aggressive expansion in China to take advantage of improved market access from better cross-Strait relationships, according to its president.
  台湾最大的私营金融服务企业之一富邦金控(Fubon Financial Holdings)的总经理龚天行(Victor Kung)表示,该银行正计划在中国大陆大举扩张,以抓住两岸关系改善带来更好市场准入条件的有利机会。

  Victor Kung told the Financial Times that Fubon hoped to become a powerhouse in eastern China by opening about 200 branches in the coastal Fujian province, which sits directly across the Strait from Taiwan, in the next five years. He also said Fubon was interested in potential mergers and acquisitions in China's fund management industry and would shortly apply for a fund management licence from Chinese regulators.

  Fubon, which owns Taiwan's second-biggest life assurer, was one of the first Taiwanese banks to try to enter China when it bought Hong Kong-listed International Bank of Asia in 2004. The unit, later renamed Fubon Bank (Hong Kong), bought a 20 per cent stake in Xiamen Commercial Bank for Rmb230m in late 2008. The Chinese bank has 32 branches in Xiamen, capital of Fujian province, and Mr Kung estimates that it would cost Rmb450m ($66m) to set up another 120.
  拥有台湾第二大寿险公司的富邦,曾在2004年收购在香港上市的港基国际银行(International Bank of Asia),从而成为首家试图进入中国大陆市场的台湾银行之一。港基国际银行后来更名为富邦银行(香港),该行在2008年末以2.3亿元人民币购得厦门银行(Xiamen Bank) 20%股权。厦门银行在福建省厦门市拥有32家分行,据龚天行估计,建立另外120家分行大约需要4.5亿元人民币(合6600万美元)。

  Taiwanese banks are still barred from taking direct stakes in Chinese banks, although they can now apply to set up branches and subsidiaries in China following the signing of a cross-Strait financial memorandum of understanding at the end of last year. Further opening up of market access is expected with the signing of a broad trade pact later this year.

  More access would initially help Fubon better service its traditional customers in China – the roughly 700,000 Taiwanese businessmen living and working mostly in China's coastal cities – but Fubon's aim is to service local Chinese in Fujian too. “[Taiwanese businessmen in China] will generate profits early on but it is not plentiful enough for the long run. We need to really become local and for that we need a regional branch network,” Mr Kung said.

  The most hoped for liberalisations from the trade talks, Mr Kung said, include greater access to China's securities industries and shorter waiting times for banking licences to conduct renminbi business, both of which would go beyond China's existing World Trade Organisation commitments.

  Mr Kung said Fubon's focus on the Fujian region was partly driven by the consideration that “it is not clear whether Beijing will open up the entire country to the ‘WTO plus' rules or just certain regions”, much like the way companies from Hong Kong were granted more favourable terms within neighbouring Guangdong province under Hong Kong's trade pact with China, Mr Kung said.

  He added that in spite of lagging behind China's other coastal regions, Fujian's economy was likely to grow to a size similar to Taiwan's in 10 years' time.

  He said the region had also been marked by Beijing “as an area for Taiwanese businesses to expand into, so we should take advantage of that”.