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First Commercial to open outlet in Shanghai Free Trade Zone

TAIPEI -- First Commercial Bank (第一銀行), the flagship banking arm of Taiwan-based First Financial Holding Co., said Friday that it has obtained a green light from China to open an outlet in the China (Shanghai) Free Trade Zone.

First Bank said an application filed by its Shanghai branch has been approved by the China Banking Regulatory Commission's Shanghai office to set up a sub-branch in the Shanghai free trade zone.

The sub-branch is expected to take advantage of preferential status, in particular in Chinese yuan-denominated transactions, to push for market liberalization in the Shanghai free trade zone, which became operational last September, First Bank said.

The bank said that the sub-branch, which is expected to begin operations in six months, will work with the Shanghai branch to further extend its reach in the Chinese city.

First Bank opened its Shanghai branch Dec. 23, 2010, making it one of the first local banks to set up a foothold in China amid warming economic ties across the Taiwan Strait.

After the branch opened, the outlet witnessed its bottom line strengthened as it is allowed to conduct yuan-denominated transactions, providing services not only to Taiwanese investors stationed in China but also to Chinese and foreign customers there.

In 2013, the Shanghai branch posted US$10.34 million in pretax profit, a jump from US$1.02 million recorded in 2012.

In addition to the presence in Shanghai, First Bank will set up a branch in Chengdu, Sichuan Province, by the end of June. It is also planning to open a branch in Xiamen in Fujian Province, and has already submitted an application to the Chinese authorities in this regard.

First Bank has also set its sights on rural areas of Henan Province and is planning to open operations in villages in the province in the future.

Meanwhile, First Bank has started offering financial leasing in Suzhou and Chengdu. The bank is planning to extend this service to Xiamen.

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