United Overseas Bank sees its opportunities in the Sichuan Province capital from both inside and out.
The Singapore-based lender says its strategy is to assist foreign companies that want to invest in China’s rapidly growing western region and also to assist local companies that want to expand to other emerging markets in Asia.
Lim Tow Meng, general manager at the Chengdu branch of UOB, brings a wealth of experience to that two-pronged goal.
He joined UOB in 1996. Prior to his current position, he was the general manager of Shenzhen and Xiamen branches of the bank. He holds a bachelor degree of business commerce from Nanyang University, a diploma in management consultancy from the National Productivity Board Institute and a MBA from the University of Leicester.
Lim told Shanghai Daily the bank is excited about Chengdu’s prospects as the gateway to development in inland China.
Q: How long has UOB been in Chengdu and what is the bank’s business focus in the city?
UOB’s Chengdu branch was established in 2006. Since then, we have been focused on helping local companies expand into markets in Asia, especially in Southeast Asia. We also facilitate inbound investments into Chengdu by leveraging our extensive regional network.
With China’s economic growth slowing in recent years, Chinese enterprises are now more willing to expand beyond domestic shores.
Our ability to provide seamless cross-border services is critical to companies who are keen to expand their businesses in the region. Wealth management is another focus of UOB. As the population in Chengdu becomes more affluent, people are looking for a banking partner that can help them manage and grow their wealth.
Q: What makes Chengdu such an attractive place for foreign banks to do business?
Chengdu is one of the fastest developing cities globally. It is also one of the most important economic, logistic and communication centers in western China.
The city’s rapid pace of development and rising affluence makes it an attractive business destination for UOB. With our regional franchise, strong balance sheet and strength in providing wealth management services, we can help contribute to the economic growth of the city.
Q: Do you think your presence in Chengdu provides advantages for your business in the wider western region?
Chengdu is the gateway to the region. China’s inland region is driven by the resources industry, which includes mining, gas and coal. Many of them are investing overseas, and we can partner with them by providing tailored cross-border loans and advisory services.
Q: How does UOB help businesses in Chengdu expand beyond western China?
Over the years, UOB has built an extensive network in Southeast Asia. In addition, we have a strong understanding of the region, given our 77 years of heritage, as well as strategic partnerships with regional trade associations.
UOB is the only Singapore-based bank that has signed a memorandum of understanding with the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade to facilitate trade and business flows between China and Southeast Asia. In April this year, we set up a foreign direct investment advisory unit in China dedicated to helping Chinese companies invest into Southeast Asia.
More than business, we believe in contributing to the communities in which we operate.
While our focus is on children, education and the arts, we have also contributed beyond them. In 2008, UOB donated S$2 million (US$1.59 million) to support the relief efforts of the Wenchuan earthquake in Sichuan Province.