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UOB Says on Lookout for Acquisitions in China, Southeast Asia

Feb. 14 (Bloomberg) -- United Overseas Bank Ltd. is on the lookout for acquisition opportunities in Greater China and Southeast Asia, Chief Executive Officer Wee Ee Cheong said.

“The whole Greater China is something that we’re interested to look at,” Wee told reporters today in response to a query on the lender’s interest in Hong Kong’s Wing Hang Bank Ltd. “Not only Greater China, even the whole Southeast Asia. We are always on the look out for good acquisitions.”

UOB, the region’s third-largest lender, today posted an 11 percent increase in net income to S$773 million ($613 million), beating the S$656 million average of six estimates. Net interest margin shrank to 1.74 percent from 1.76 percent a year earlier, the Singapore-based bank said. Net interest income gained 13 percent, while fees and commissions climbed 12 percent.

“Our approach is to grow organically,” UOB also said in a statement. “We remain open to acquisitions, but at the right price and right fit.”

Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp. is in exclusive talks with the majority shareholders of Wing Hang Bank until March 3 to purchase the lender. Hong Kong offers a gateway into mainland China and an opportunity to tap the country’s efforts to increase the global use of the yuan.

To contact the reporter on this story: Sanat Vallikappen in Singapore at vallikappen@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Chitra Somayaji at csomayaji@bloomberg.net

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