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Resona to Tie Up With Malaysia’s Public Bank for Asia Growth

Resona Holdings Inc. President Kazuhiro Higashi
Resona Holdings Inc. President Kazuhiro Higashi. Photographer: Akio Kon/Bloomberg

Resona Holdings Inc., Japan’s fifth-largest bank by market value, is poised to tie up with Malaysia’s Public Bank Bhd. as part of its efforts to expand in Asia.

Resona will sign an agreement with Malaysia’s third-biggest lender on May 20 to service Japanese companies looking to enter the country and borrow in the local currency, President Kazuhiro Higashi said in an interview this week.

“There are many Japanese companies in Malaysia, so we want to support them with a local banking partner,” said Higashi, 56, who became president last month. “We’ve covered most big Asian countries by now,” he said, adding that he’s interested in Myanmar, Laos and Cambodia.

Resona is tapping credit demand from faster-growing economies as deflation and a shrinking population limit growth at home. Higashi said in March that he plans to boost new loans to Japanese businesses expanding in Asia by 25 percent to 50 billion yen ($490 million) within a year.

With no banking licenses outside Japan, Tokyo-based Resona has so far forged partnerships with 12 banks in Asia, including Bank of China Ltd. and Manila-based Rizal Commercial Banking Corp., to boost loans to companies with offshore operations.

Shares of Resona fell 0.6 percent to 532 yen at 11:30 a.m. in Tokyo, paring this year’s gain to 36 percent. The benchmark Topix Index rose 0.3 percent and is up 45 percent in 2013.

Resona last week unveiled plans to complete a bailout repayment in five years. The bank will pay the remaining 872 billion yen it owes to the government by March 2018, it said in a statement on May 10. Resona is among lenders that were rescued by taxpayers after amassing bad loans in the wake of Japan’s property and stock-market bubble in the 1990s.

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