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MUFG Bank to close 35% of Japan branches

Megabank adds more to chopping block as it scales back self-service outlets

Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, one of Japan's three megabanks, is diverting more resources into new growth areas.   © Reuters

TOKYO -- Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group will reduce branches of its flagship MUFG Bank by 35% by fiscal 2023 as it pours more resources into structural reforms and an overseas push.

The group previously planned to close 20%, or about 100, of the 515 branches it had as of the end of fiscal 2017. Now, about 180 are on the chopping block under a downsizing described Monday in a presentation for investors.

Plans for new branches outfitted for self-service where customers can videoconference with staffers are being scaled back. A branch in Tokyo's Meguro Ward reopened in January as the first under a new format emphasizing self-service, slashing counter transactions there by about 40% while continuing to offer needed services.

But the group saw its expense ratio increase to 71% in the year ended March 31 from the year-earlier 68%. Opening too many new self-service-enabled locations would have pushed up costs even further, and the group also saw limited demand for such branches given the rise of online banking.

The group has not changed its plans to halve the number of conventional staffed branches compared with March 2018.

Fellow Japanese megabank Mizuho Financial Group will shutter 130 of 500 locations by fiscal 2024 under plans announced last Wednesday -- up 30 branches from before.

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