Singapore’s First French Bank

ISSUE #57 – Singapore’s first French banking entity, Crédit Agricole Corporate & Investment Bank (CIB) is a major international corporate and investment bank that provides solution-driven corporate and investment banking products and services.

Crédit Agricole Corporate & Investment Bank (Crédit Agricole CIB) established its presence over a century ago through Banque de l’Indochine, the first French bank in Singapore. It operated as a financier to Chinese and Western firms trading in Southeast Asia. Since 1905, the bank has retained the patronage of many important trading houses as well as prominent Singaporean businessmen such as Dr Lim Boon Keng, Tan Boon Liat, owner of the Rattan Trading Company, and Chew Joo Chiat, a rich land owner and road builder.

Crédit Agricole CIB established its presence in 1905 as the first French bank in Singapore.

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GROWTH AND EVOVLING IDENTITY

The bank reopened after World War II and, in the 1960s, expanded its activities to include new fi nancial services for the local industries. In 1975, Banque de l’Indochine merged with Banque de Suez et de l’Union des Mines and subsequently shortened its name to Banque Indosuez in 1981. Singapore was later chosen as its Asian regional headquarters.

In 1996, Crédit Agricole, the largest bank in France acquired Banque Indosuez to form Crédit Agricole Indosuez.

Subsequently in 2004, Crédit Agricole Indosuez merged with Crédit Lyonnais’ Corporate and Investment Banking division (which became a subsidiary of Crédit Agricole since 2003) to form Calyon Bank. The division was finally rebranded as Crédit Agricole CIB in 2010.

STEADY OPPORTUNITIES IN A FINANCING HUB

The policy move by the government to develop Singapore’s financial sector and position the country as a regional financial centre has opened many doors for Crédit Agricole CIB. The bank was able to finance much of the local and regional growth by, for example, facilitating trade, building of infrastructure, and corporate financing.

As such, Singapore continues to be a vital financing hub for the region especially in developing countries such as Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand. With the bank’s focus to support government agencies, supra-nationals, and corporates, we continue to see many opportunities to fi nance development projects from Singapore.

LANDMARK PROJECTS IN SINGAPORE

Crédit Agricole CIB has been instrumental in the financing of various centrepiece landmarks, supporting Singapore’s vision to be a vibrant and global city of the 21st century.

Marina Bay Sands, a SGD5.4-billion development and Singapore’s premier integrated resort, was financed in 2007 with the bank-appointed Mandated Lead Arranger (MLA). Even today, the deal is still historically the largest debt raised in the bank loan market. The bank was also appointed MLA in the fi nuancing of Asia Square Towers 1 & 2, the bestin-class Grade A office buildings in Singapore’s Central Business District, currently valued at SGD3.5 billion and SGD2.3 billion respectively.

Last but not least, the bank participated as MLA and documentation bank in the SGD1.5-billion financing of the Sports Hub in 2010, a new 55,000 capacity National Stadium with a retractable roof, which is the largest free-spanning structure in the world. At the close of the deal, the project was the largest sports Public Private Partnership (PPP) in the world.

 

By Pierre Finas, Senior Country Officer, Singapore, Malaysia & Indonesia,
Crédit Agricole Corporate & 
Investment Bank (CIB)

 


PHOTOS: Banque de l’Indochine at French Bank Building, 6 d’Almeida Street (1912-1959), then at Afro-Asia Building, Robinson Road (1959-1975), and Crédit Agricole CIB’s current location at Capital Tower

 

Article published in the FOCUS Magazine “SG50” – May 2015