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Two Asian banks seek growth in Canada

Lobby of Korea Exchange Bank's headquarters in Seoul


Two prominent Asian banks are looking to expand in Canada, hoping to capitalize on the country's increasing ties with China and South Korea.

Korea Exchange Bank said it is planning to add to its presence in Canada by opening more branches to expand its customer base, while China Construction Bank Corp. said it plans to seek permission to open its first Canadian branch.

The move comes after Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, one of the world's largest banks by market value, gained a toehold in the Canadian market last year.

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Larry Klane, chief executive officer of Korea Exchange Bank, said in Toronto that he intends to expand the bank's network of eight branches, which includes locations in Toronto, Vancouver and Calgary.

"We'd like to grow our business here," Mr. Klane said in an interview. "The first order of business is to deepen our customer engagement beyond just a Canadian-Korean focus here."

The bank's activities in Canada are centred mostly around foreign exchange and trade finance involving South Korean companies with business in Canada, and intends to increase financing for Canadian companies with trade in Asia.

"We also may very well expand our physical footprint," Mr. Klane said. "We're only physically scratching the surface of it." However he added it would be a modest expansion of branches in Canada.

China Construction Bank intends to apply to the Minister of Finance for permission to establish a foreign bank branch, according to the Canada Gazette, which lists regulatory submissions in Ottawa. Based in Beijing, the bank wants to open its Canadian location in Toronto.

Last year Industrial and Commercial Bank of China bought six branches in Canada formerly owned by Bank of East Asia to use as its entry into the Canadian market. Like the other banks, ICBC said it wants to court newcomers from China and businesses with interests in both China and Canada, two areas in which Canada's major banks have been eager to grow.

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Senior Writer

Grant Robertson is an award-winning journalist who has been recognized for investigative journalism, sports writing and business reporting. More

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