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Foreign firms may be considered for business tieups as the Resona banking group seeks to shore up its banking operations, the newly appointed president of Resona Holdings Inc. said Thursday.

“If a suitable company for a tieup comes along, we will not exclude” foreign firms, said Seiji Higaki, who will assume the top position at the holding company once his appointment is approved at the general shareholders’ meeting on June 27.

Higaki currently serves on Resona’s board of directors.

Because Resona is not under the wing of a zaibatsu conglomerate, the banking group would have no problem pursuing a tieup with any company, including foreign firms, if it will benefit its customers, the 56-year-old executive told reporters.

Resona is currently in the process of financial reconstruction. In 2003, the government injected about 3 trillion yen in public funds into Resona to help bolster its crumbling capital — a move that effectively nationalized the bank.

But the reconstruction plan seems to be paying off. Resona made its first large-scale repayment of those funds in January, returning 570 billion yen, to the government. The banking group’s net profit for business 2006 jumped 73 percent to a record 664.8 billion yen.

“The biggest task for me is to pay back public funds and improve corporate management,” said Higaki, who started his career at Daiwa Bank, the predecessor of Resona.

Resona received public funds because its business was unhealthy, Higaki said, vowing to create a stronger banking group so it will not have to ask for government funds again. Resona plans to repay all of its public funds by March 2010.

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