Taiwanese bank operations in Vietnam regular despite protests

05/14/2014 06:23 PM
A Taipei Fubon Bank branch in Taipei.
A Taipei Fubon Bank branch in Taipei.

Taipei, May 14 (CNA) Operations in Vietnam of Taiwanese banks remained regular Wednesday despite escalating anti-China protests that have also targeted Taiwanese businesses, according to Taiwan's Financial Supervisory Commission (FSC), the top financial watchdog.

The FSC said that 53 Vietnamese foothold operations set up by major Taiwanese financial institutions, including 10 bank branches, remained unaffected by the chaotic situation in Binh Duong province and have reported no losses due to the unrest.

FSC Chairman Tseng Ming-chung said the local banking sector's exposure to Vietnam totals NT$79.3 billion (US$2.63 billion) so far, a relatively low level compared with Taiwan's lending to other countries.

Vietnamese protesters have been enraged since Tuesday by China's move that day to deploy an oilrig in what Hanoi claims is its economic waters in the South China Sea.

Self-governed Taiwan is not part of the People's Republic of China and has never been under its control, but many protesting Vietnamese have failed to distinguish between Chinese and Taiwanese, setting fire to a number of Taiwan-owned factories.

The violence was concentrated in Binh Duong province, where many Taiwanese investors operate, north of Ho Chi Minh City.

Major Taiwanese financial institutions such as Fubon Financial Holding Co., Cathay Financial Holding Co., Mega Financial Holding Co., and First Financial Holding Co., have established footholds in Vietnam. Fubon Financial and Cathay Financial even have expanded into Binh Duong, according to the FSC.

Taiwanese holding firms said that the unrest has been limited to industrial zones in the province, leaving their offices unaffected.

Fubon Financial said a branch of its flagship banking arm Taipei Fubon Commercial Bank in Binh Duong is still operating normally and providing services to its customers. To prevent possible attacks, however, the bank's branches in Binh Duong and in Ho Chi Minh City have covered their Chinese language signs.

Cathay Financial said that Indovina Bank -- a joint venture between Cathay United Bank and a Vietnamese partner -- has signage written in Vietnamese instead of Chinese, adding the bank's operations are continuing as normal.

Meanwhile, Tseng said the FSC is gathering information on Taiwanese investors' losses due to the unrest in Vietnam, adding that so far it has been limited. As a result, the ongoing situation is unlikely to adversly impact the local bourse, he said.

(By Wu Ching-chun, Tien Yu-pin and Frances Huang)enditem/WH

Related stories:●May 14: Taiwan condemns violence against Taiwan businesses in Vietnam (update)●May 13: Taiwanese businesses suffer from anti-China protest in Vietnam

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