07 November 18 The Business Times by SIOW LI SEN
UNITED Overseas Bank has reinforced its commitment to China by opening a new headquarters building in Shanghai.
UOB Plaza is the first Grade A office building owned by a foreign bank in the Lujiazui Financial District, the bank said on Tuesday.
The district is China's largest financial hub, driving Shanghai's development as an international financial centre. With 20 floors and more than 35,000 square metres of floor area, the building houses UOB (China)'s head office, Shanghai branch and Free Trade Zone sub-branch. UOB (China) occupies 12 floors of the building with 700 staff based there.
UOB has 16 branches across 12 major cities in China, with a total staff strength of 1,300.
UOB chief executive Wee Ee Cheong said the bank has been building up its China franchise for more than 30 years.
South-east Asia's third largest bank first established its presence in China in 1984 with a Beijing representative office.
"For more than 30 years, UOB has been building our China franchise and deepening our relationships with customers, colleagues and the community," said Mr Wee. "Today, our very own building in the thriving district of Lujiazui reaffirms our commitment to China's market and our stakeholders here. Our investment in UOB Plaza also symbolises the connections we are building for our customers to seize regional opportunities.
"Our unique combination of regional scale and local market expertise, whether here in China or in Southeast Asia, means we are well-placed to facilitate cross-border business and investment for our customers," said Mr Wee.
UOB has 457 branches and offices in South-east Asia, making its Asean network the largest among the three Singapore banks.
Peter Foo, UOB (China) president, said its headquarters in Lujiazui positions the bank to support China's enterprise growth as the district is the testbed and transformation model for many of China's economic and financial reforms.
The official opening of UOB Plaza was in conjunction with the 10th anniversary of UOB (China), the group's locally incorporated subsidiary. Over the last decade, its total operating income and total assets both increased close to five times to 1.2 billion yuan (S$240 million) and 63.5 billion yuan respectively in 2017.
Net profit after tax grew more than six times to 136 million yuan over the same period. The registered capital of UOB (China) rose from three billion yuan to the current 5.5 billion yuan.
UOB (China) signed three memoranda of understanding (MOU) at the UOB Plaza opening ceremony.
The first MOU was with China CITIC Bank Corporation Limited to help more companies invest within and outside China.
The two banks will collaborate to offer solutions in areas such as investment advisory, corporate and project financing, trade financing, financial derivatives and cross-border renminbi business.
The second MOU was with Ascendas-Singbridge Group, an urban development and business space solutions provider owned by Temasek Holdings and JTC Corp.
The partners will offer startups and small and medium-sized enterprises opening in China, business solutions such as preferential rents at Ascendas-Singbridge's business parks and co-working spaces, and UOB (China)'s products and services.
The last MOU was with the Shanghai Lujiazui Financial City Authority to support the growth of the financial technology (fintech) ecosystem in the Liujiazui Financial District.
Both parties will commit their resources to helping Chinese and international fintech companies understand and capitalise on business and collaboration opportunities as Shanghai continues to develop as an international financial centre.