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Japan's best domestic bank 2018: MUFG


Nobuyuki Hirano’s MUFG is a powerhouse, achieving superlative after superlative: Japan’s biggest bank; its second-largest company (after Toyota); the world’s leading provider of project finance; etcetera etcetera. The list goes on and on.

Having become Japan’s first bank among the country’s rather staid big three – ahead of Mizuho and SMBC – by some distance, MUFG is now making even greater strides internationally.

It has sprinted past HSBC to become the world’s fifth-biggest bank in terms of assets – and the world’s biggest non-Chinese bank – and MUFG wants its four initials to be as recognizable in international markets and high streets as, well, HSBC.

The home market is humming if not roaring, so this firm has extended its global reach this year to become the Japanese bank with the biggest international footprint, boasting more than 2,000 offices in 50-plus countries. That all helped MUFG deliver profits for the six months to September 30 of ¥650.7 billion ($5.8 billion), up almost 4% on the same period in 2017.

Group assets are now tallied at $2.7 trillion.

As Hirano sallied abroad, he also kept a tight grip on MUFG at home. Although overheads inevitably rose because of MUFG’s aggressive overseas expansion, both from their acquisition costs and by bringing these new purchases into line with international compliance regimes, the impact was offset by keeping domestic costs in line.

MUFG’s non-Japanese offshoots now contribute roughly 40% of net operating income, and 40% of the group’s employees are non-Japanese working in international group offices.

As if to underline that HSBC is in Hirano’s sights, more than 40% of MUFG’s overseas operating profit was generated in Asia, the focus of MUFG’s push offshore and where HSBC is most active.