• Lender to establish new division to handle global business
  • Will use Taiwanese parent CTBC's global network for loans

Tokyo Star Bank Ltd., the first Japanese commercial lender to be taken over by a foreign bank, plans to hire 30 people by March to begin expanding abroad with the help of its Taiwanese owner.

“We intend to make international business a new pillar of profit,” Chief Executive Officer Masaru Irie said in an interview. The regional bank has received resumes from candidates with overseas sales experience and product-management expertise at Japanese and foreign institutions, he said.

The recruits will work in Tokyo to seek business from local customers that are expanding abroad, and from clients of Taipei-based parent CTBC Financial Holding Co. that are exploring opportunities in Japan. Like their larger peers, some regional lenders in Japan are looking for ways to boost revenue from overseas as low interest rates and intensifying competition squeeze lending margins and increase pressure on them to consolidate.

CTBC, Taiwan’s third-largest publicly traded lender, bought Tokyo Star for about 53 billion yen ($435 million) in 2014, more than a decade after the Japanese bank’s bankrupt predecessor was purchased by Lone Star Funds, a U.S. buyout firm.

Growth Strategy

Irie, 63, said the shift in ownership to CTBC enabled the bank to draw up a 10-year growth strategy in October. In addition to the overseas push, he plans to expand business with wealthy Japanese and boost headcount by 1.5 times to 2,000 employees over the 10-year period.

CTBC’s head office already has an 80-person Japan desk, many of whom speak Japanese, to manage business including from Tokyo Star. Its main banking unit has 147 branches in Taiwan and a further 100 in markets including China, Hong Kong, India and Vietnam, according to its website.

“CTBC has the network and the people,” said Irie. “When our customers tell us they’re going overseas, CTBC can take care of all the information for us.”

Tokyo Star has 32 branches in Japan including in Osaka, Nagoya and Fukuoka as well as its home city. It had 2.2 trillion yen in deposits and 1.6 trillion yen in loans as of March.

“Our foundations are far further advanced than a typical regional bank’s,” Irie said.

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