Taipei, July 4 (CNA) Spain's financial group Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria (BBVA) opened a Taipei branch Wednesday, the first European bank to open a branch location since the financial crisis began in 2010.
Focused on investment banking and global market business, the new branch is designed to meet the needs of Taiwan's large multinational corporations and institutional investors, especially those with interests in Latin America.
BBVA Chairman and CEO Francisco Gonzalez said at a press briefing that Taiwan is a "strategically important market" given its developed and expanding economy, large financial sector and excellent credit rating.
In the long term, Gonzalez said he is optimistic about Taiwan's economic prospects and will link Taiwan more tightly with other markets, such as the United States and South America, through the operation of its Taipei branch.
BBVA began building its Asian franchise over 30 years ago and now has four other branch offices in Hong Kong, Seoul, Singapore and Tokyo.
It is also one of the largest foreign investors in China's banking industry through its strategic alliance with China CITIC Bank -- China's sixth largest bank headquartered in Beijing -- and CITIC Bank International in Hong Kong.
BBVA's Asia staff count has grown from 40 people in 2005 to about 300 employees today, 196 of them being based in its Hong Kong headquarters.
As of March 30, the global financial service group had a market capitalization of 29.26 billion euros (US$36.8 billion) and was listed on the London, New York and Madrid stock exchanges.
(By Jeffrey Wu)