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Malaysia issues licences to five foreign banks

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Malaysia has issued commercial banking licences to five foreign banks, including French giant BNP Paribas, the country’s central bank announced Thursday.

The move came as part of government efforts announced in April last year to liberalise the financial sector, allowing nine new banking and insurance licences and easing foreign ownership limits for non-commercial banks. As well as BNP Paribas, the banks that have been issued licences are Indonesia’s PT Bank Mandiri (Persero), the National Bank of Abu Dhabi, and Japan’s Mizuho Corporate Bank and Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation.

Bank Negara said in issuing the licences that it had taken into account the banks’ “financial strength, track record, expertise, business plan and potential contribution” towards the development of Malaysia’s financial sector.

“The presence of these banks will also further enhance Malaysia’s international linkages through facilitating international trade and investment flows between Malaysia and other parts of the world,” it said in a statement. Malaysia has issued 19 licences for commercial banking and six for Islamic banks to foreign operators to date, including to India’s Bank of Baroda in April and the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China in November last year.

Kuala Lumpur, June 17, 2010 (AFP)