Kanbawza Bank (KBZ Bank) receives licence to establish a representative office in Thailand, marking a major milestone for Myanmar’s largest private bank.
Kanbawza Bank (KBZ Bank) Limited, part of the KBZ Group of companies, has officially received a licence to open a representative office in Thailand. This licence from the Bank of Thailand makes KBZ Bank the first Myanmar bank to establish a presence in Thailand, or anywhere outside Myanmar. It is the first step towards a goal of becoming Myanmar’s foremost commercial presence in the Southeast Asian (ASEAN) region and internationally.
“As the largest bank in Myanmar, we are able to use our extensive knowledge of the country’s financial markets to encourage and promote trade, as well as provide advisory services to Thai businesses looking to enter Myanmar,” said U Than Cho, Senior Managing Director of KBZ Bank, who believes that the new office in Thailand could play a key role in helping Myanmar re-integrate into the ASEAN business community.
“The long-standing relationship between the two countries offer sample opportunities to collaborate across various sectors in the region. We have long been a leading financial institution in Myanmar, and are prepared to represent the country alongside our international industry peers,” added U Than Cho.
He further elaborated that in order to open this office, KBZ Bank had to undergo stringent due diligence procedures and demonstrate significant transparency as part of the licence application. This included an appraisal of the bank’s position in the market, background information of its shareholders, the awards the bank has received and its accounts and investments to ensure its operations adhered to the guidelines set by the Bank of Thailand.
KBZ Group has a proven track-record of operating with industry best practices as evidenced in 2014, when the Myanmar Centre for Responsible Business (MCRB) recognized the KBZ Group of Companies as the most transparent organization in Myanmar. With endorsements from the Central Bank of Myanmar and the Royal Thai Embassy in Yangon, KBZ Bank was successful in demonstrating its financial sector credentials and compliance.
The representative office will be headed by Zeyar Sein Htut, KBZ Bank’s newly appointed Country Head for Thailand, and will focus on activities such as market research, liaising with the private sector and serving as a source of information, including regulatory requirements for doing business both in Thailand and Myanmar. The location and opening date of the office will be announced in the near future.
Zeyar Sein Htut is currently responsible for corporate advisory at KBZ Bank and business development within KBZ Group, where he leads new business and investment opportunities, provides advisory services to all corporate clients and executes project finance transactions.
Bilateral trade between Myanmar and Thailand during the past five years has been worth US$6.8 billion on average. Building on the strong trade relations, Myanmar being Thailand’s seventh-largest trade partner in the world and Thailand being Myanmar’s second- largest, there are many potential areas to further encourage commercial exchange as both countries seek to boost strong bilateral trade ties in the coming years. Additionally, KBZ Bank is able to explore opportunities to build relations with, and eventually cater to the large Myanmar population in the Kingdom — estimated to be around 3 million people — when they return to their home country.
Last year, KBZ Bank announced their intention to open representative offices in Thailand and Singapore, following the success in obtaining the licence to operate in Thailand. The bank is poised to continue expansion in ASEAN.—GNLM