Standard chartered to exit Thai retail banking next year

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Bangkok - Standard Chartered plans to transfer its Thai retail-banking business to Thailand’s Tisco Financial Group next year, exiting an operation that the UK lender said lacked the scale to generate adequate returns.

The net asset value is about 5.5bn baht ($153m), according to a stock exchange filing by Tisco on Thursday, which didn’t disclose a price for the deal. Tisco shares climbed to a record.

Standard Chartered will continue to operate corporate, institutional and commercial banking businesses in Thailand, but the small size of the retail operation made it "increasingly difficult to achieve the returns that we aspire to," the lender’s Thai head, Plakorn Wanglee, said in a press release.

"It’s very tough to survive in Thailand’s retail-banking business for small players with very fierce competition," Isara Ordeedolchest, an analyst at SCB Securities in Bangkok, said by phone.

"The outlook for banks should improve significantly in 2017 as a consumption recovery and higher government spending will spur economic growth."

The Asia-focused Standard Chartered is targeting a turnaround after last year posting its first annual pre-tax loss since 1989.

In a sign that the Thai operations were not a bright spot, the bank in February recorded a $126m goodwill impairment on its business in the country.

One unit of Tisco Financial, Tisco Bank, will take over operations including personal lending, mortgages and deposits, while another, All-Ways Comoany, will take over the credit-card business, the exchange filing said.

The deal is subject to approvals.

Tisco’s shares closed 2.2% higher at a record 58 baht in Bangkok.

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