China Merchants Bank Co. is among at least five Chinese banks applying to open branches in Taiwan as relations between the two governments thaw, said Ma Weihua, chief executive officer of China’s fifth-biggest lender by market value.
“We’re not the only one applying,” Ma said in an interview in London last week before the opening ceremony for the lender’s first unit in the U.K. capital. “There are five or six.” China Merchants has “participated in the discussion” of a financial-services agreement between China and Taiwan, he said.
China and Taiwan are working on an agreement to allow cross-strait investment between financial firms, after five decades of restricted access. Bank of China Ltd., the nation’s largest foreign-exchange lender with over 800 outlets overseas, said April 27 it wants to be the first Chinese bank to set up a branch in Taiwan.