Bangkok Bank
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Bangkok Bank

Time to build a banking empire

Branches in Asia: 23 (excluding Thailand)
Present in: 10 countries

Asian loan book: $2.7 billion

The ambitions of Thailand's Bangkok Bank to be a major international player in Asia have taken a knock as a result of the economic crisis which began in its home market. In the third quarter of 1998, the bank reported a Bt10 billion ($270 million) loss, compared with a Bt2.9 billion profit in the same period last year. Non-performing loans now account for 28% of its portfolio.

So how do these problems affect Bangkok Bank's vision of becoming one of Asia's most international banks? "At this point, because of the crisis that is happening in the region and especially Thailand, the most important thing is to tackle the immediate problems in our home market," says Chartsiri Sophonpanich, the bank's president. "The question of the regional area is still there, but the focus is more on problem-solving at this point."

Bangkok Bank is, in fact, one of the few aspiring regional players whose business has become less not more international in recent years. "The size of our loan book in Asia and its relative contributions was bigger in the 1980s before the boom in Thailand," says Sophonpanich.

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