SINGAPORE -- DBS Group Holdings announced Wednesday that it is setting up shop in Australia, now that regulators have given the green light.
The Singapore-based DBS -- Southeast Asia's largest bank by assets -- is actively expanding abroad. It sees opportunities to provide banking services and financing to Australian companies that are branching out around Asia.
The Australian operation will give DBS a presence in 18 markets. The bank will provide corporate and trade financing, cash management and treasury solutions through its new Sydney branch, expected to open this month.
DBS intends to focus on Australian corporate clients that do business in its six core markets: China, India, Indonesia, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Singapore. It also sees promising prospects in Malaysia and Thailand.
"Australia has been growing in importance as a trading partner of the Asian nations, and an Australia presence will further extend our ability to support our clients as they expand," DBS CEO Piyush Gupta said in a press release.
Singapore is Australia's largest trade and investment partner in Southeast Asia, and the gateway to Asia for many Australian companies. Apparel chain Cotton On, which has 50 outlets in Singapore among 1,300 in 17 countries, is one example.
Singaporean companies have also been investing in Australia. Optus, Australia's second-largest telecommunications company, is owned by Singapore Telecommunications, known as Singtel. Earlier this year, commodity trader Wilmar International bought Australian food producer Goodman Fielder for more than $1 billion.
In its own expansion drive, DBS last year acquired Societe Generale's private banking arm in Singapore and Hong Kong, as well as some of its trust business, for $220 million. In the quarter through March, DBS's overseas business accounted for around 30% of net profit.
The bank is also exploring online banking as a means of reaching more international customers. There are plans to launch online services in China, India and Indonesia later this year.