CONVENTIONAL banks aside, there is a push by industry players for mergers and acquisitions (M&A) to take place in the crowded Islamic banking as well as the non-bank lender space.
There are 16 Islamic banks in Malaysia.
Two are full-fledged standalone banks: Bank Islam (M) Bhd and Bank Muamalat Malaysia Bhd.
Eight more are subsidiaries of conventional banks, while the remaining are foreign banks.
“There is no need for the spaces to be as fragmented as they are now as the country moves up the value chain,” says an analyst.
Having said that, he points out that some of the banks really need to improve their non-performing loans and balance sheets.
“Efficiency and productivity have to permeate across the entire ecosystem, be it conventional or otherwise,” he adds.
M&A activities in this particular sectors of the banking industry will also open up opportunities for major institutions to see how they can participate in them.
It was reported recently that Permodalan Nasional Bhd (PNB) which is the country’s largest fund management company, is believed to be open to the idea of acquiring Bank Rakyat in a move which could lead to value creation between Bank Rakyat and PNB-controlled companies.
Besides the MIDF Group which is the investment banking and asset management arm of PNB, the fund also controls Malayan Banking Bhd (Maybank) – the largest bank in the country that also has a regional presence.
PNB has a 60% stake in Malaysia’s only national reinsurer, MNRB Holdings Bhd which is grossly under-valued
Following the effects of the Asian financial crisis in the late 1990s, Bank Negara had called for a consolidation of the country’s then almost 60 financial institutions of which over 20 were local commercial banks.
Today, the country has eight local banking groups.
Nevertheless, while consolidation has happened in the conventional banking industry, new licences had been issued within the Islamic banking space to more Islamic banks like Bank Muamalat, Kuwait Finance House, Asian Finance Bank (AFB) and Al Rajhi Bank, resulting in the overcrowded situation.
Of the banks, AFB however is currently in talks with MBSB for a proposed merger.
Meanwhile, PT Bank Mandiri Tbk, Indonesia’s largest bank by assets, is soon expected to start operating here with full banking rights.
Bank Mandiri currently operates in Malaysia under the licence of remittance office.