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Taiwan's best international bank 2019: Citi


Paulus Mok, Chairman, Taiwan, Citi.jpg
Paulus Mok, Citi

With their close links to the US, Taiwanese have long regarded Citi as their go-to international bank, a status that the likes of HSBC and Standard Chartered are normally accustomed to in much of Asia.

The 49-branch Citi franchise on the island has always been one of Citi’s brighter lights in the region – and calendar 2018 simply confirmed that. Paulus Mok’s Citi Taiwan reported pre-tax earnings of $432 million in 2018 to be the most profitable foreign bank on the island. Citi Taiwan’s return on assets and equity came in at 1.6% and 12.36% respectively in 2018, well above the industry averages of 0.7% and 9.31%. Citi Taiwan’s retail metier has long been its credit cards business. It launched them in Taiwan and is the leading credit card issuer on the island, with the highest activation rate (85%) and much higher spend-per-card, making it the best among the top five card issuers and 20% over the market average.

Citi Taiwan launched the Citi PChome co-branded card in May 2018 through a partnership with PChome, Taiwan’s leading e-commerce site. The card helped increase Citi card spending in PChome by over 40% in the three months after launch.

That suggests a wealthier clientele, so it is no surprise that Mok has also made inroads into Taiwan’s expanding wealth market this last year; the number of Citigold Private Clients and Citigold Clients rose by 7% in 2018, with assets under management up 7.3%.

In corporate and investment banking, it’s a similar story, Citi Taiwan being Corporate Taiwan’s go-to bank for dealmaking.

In the mergers and acquisitions sector, Citi’s corporate team advised on the largest and highest-profile deals in Taiwan, ending the year top of the league table with six deals completed, worth around $10 billion in total.

Its standout deal was a joint venture worth $2.7 billion between Taiwan Cement Corp and Turkey’s Oyak group in October. Citi introduced both parties in what is the largest outbound M&A transaction in Taiwan since 2016 and the largest M&A deal in Turkey in 2018. In May 2018, City advised leading Taiwanese electronic component manufacturer Yageo Corp in its $740 million purchase of Pulse Electronics from Oaktree Capital.

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