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StanChart not planning branch closures in Singapore

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Standard Chartered Bank has no plans to close any branches in Singapore, The Business Times understands, as the UK-based bank targets to shutter up to 100 branches or 8 per cent of its network to improve profits.

STANDARD Chartered Bank has no plans to close any branches in Singapore, The Business Times understands, as the UK-based bank targets to shutter up to 100 branches or 8 per cent of its network to improve profits.

A source said the bank currently has no plans to reduce the number of branches in Singapore.

"Singapore is amongst the high-growth cities which the bank has identified as strategic, based on market opportunity and growth," said a bank spokeswoman in response to BT queries on Wednesday. "We will continue to invest here and strengthen our presence to better serve our clients," she said.

For example, the bank will be upgrading its ATM and digital capabilities to improve the client experience, she said.

"This is in line with the local subsidiarisation of our retail clients and business clients segments in Singapore, which is part of our on-going efforts to strengthen our local presence and commitment to Singapore," she added.

During an investors' presentation in Hong Kong on Tuesday, the Asia-focused bank said it would cut up to 100 branches next year as expensive branches made it difficult to improve returns. The cuts to its network would help save US$400 million a year, according to a Reuters report.

StanChart said that returns at its retail banks were being held back by high costs and that it aimed to cut 80-100 branches, out of 1,248 it had at the end of June, to improve profitability.

The bank is under pressure to improve performance after three profit warnings this year and a 30 per cent plunge in its share price.

In Singapore, StanChart has 19 branches, which include seven priority banking centres, and 32 ATMs.