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Chubu area leader Tokai Bank intends to close down more than half of its overseas branches, offices and subsidiaries by March 2001 to focus on domestic operations, bank sources said Thursday.

The midsize city bank’s overseas units will be slashed to 30 from 66 at the end of March 1998, they said.

The move is part of an industry trend that began moving in earnest when the Financial Reconstruction Commission recently asked Japanese banks to examine the idea of pulling out of overseas banking to consolidate their efforts on surviving competition expected to intensify following Japan’s “Big Bang” of financial-sector reforms.

All banks applying for public funds to recapitalize their bases are now being asked to carry out drastic restructuring that will boost profitability, but Tokai, based in Nagoya, does not want to completely withdraw from overseas banking. Since Tokai is the main bank of Toyota Motor Corp., it conducts business for the automobile giant and its affiliates all over the world, the sources said.

However, the bank is mulling a consolidation of its domestic network by looking for branches that overlap with those of Asahi Bank, which became its new partner in September.

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