Dec 7, 2012

ANZ to Open Office in Myanmar in Early 2013

Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd. (ANZ.AU) plans to open an office in Myanmar early next year, the first Australian bank to enter the long-isolated Southeast Asian country as it opens its borders to foreign investment.

ANZ, the third-largest lender down under, said Friday it received approval from the Central Bank of Myanmar and Australia's bank regulator to open an office in the commercial center of Yangon, which will initially focus on offering "liaison services" for clients in the agriculture, resources and infrastructure industries.

"The representative office will strengthen our capability to connect customers across our international network and to access opportunities in Myanmar, as well as connecting our clients in Myanmar with new trade and investment opportunities," ANZ's head of International & Institutional Banking, Alex Thursby, said in a statement.

ANZ's move comes as Myanmar's government is tentatively taking steps to open its economy to international companies after decades of repressive military rule and economic and political estrangement from the West. This week Intel Corp. said it has set up a distribution hub in the Southeast Asian country and U.S. companies such as Coca-Cola Co., PepsiCo Inc. and General Electric Co. have already flagged their intention to do business into the country.

It's easy to see why. Myanmar's gross domestic product, adjusted by purchasing power parity, has grown by 20% since 2007--a time when the global financial crisis has battered many of the world's economies--and is expected to expand by 5%-6% a year in the future, according to researcher Frost & Sullivan. Its 60 million-strong population is young and getting richer, boosting demand for consumer goods and the need for investment in large energy and infrastructure projects.

Sandwiched between Asia's two largest economies, China and India, Myanmar is also likely "to assume great geo-political-business importance in years to come," according to Frost & Sullivan Vice President Vivek Vaidya. China is currently its largest source of investment but that is expected to change as more international companies arrive. Tellingly, it was one of the first countries that U.S. President Barack Obama chose to visit after his re-election this year.

For ANZ, the move into Myanmar also represents an important milestone in its amibition to become a pan-Asian bank as it seeks new ways to boost growth as domestic demand for credit is slowing.

"This is another important step in our super regional strategy, particularly promoting greater connectivity in the Greater Mekong," said Mr. Thursby.

Source: Fox Business

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