Taiwan banks' 1999 return on net worth falls
TAIPEI: Taiwan banks' return on net worth fell last year and Finance
Minister Paul Chiu called for mergers to improve competitiveness, the local
Commercial Times newspaper reported on Sunday.
Taiwan banks, excluding foreign branches, reported a 1999 return on net
worth at 5.9 percent, down from 8.0 percent in 1998 and showing persistent
declines since a high of 25.4 percent in 1991, the paper said, quoted
central bank statistics.
Domestic banks' combined 1999 pretax profits totalled T$104.2 billion
(US$3.4 billion), down 14 percent from 1998, the paper said. "The repeated
declines in domestic banks' return on net worth indeed issue a warning of
overbanking," the paper quoted Chiu as saying at a seminar.
"It's necessary for local banks to be integrated and merged." Chiu said
overbanking has led to vicious price-cutting, resulting in poor profit
returns. In December, the finance ministry announced plans to merge three
big state banks and said the first private sector bank tie-up would be ready
Chiu said Bank of Taiwan, Land Bank of Taiwan and Central Trust of China
would submit details of their long-expected merger in June.
Mergers are seen as crucial as the island gears up for World Trade
Organisation entry in 2000. (Reuters)
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