Finance minister reiterates opposition to proposed Taishin-CHCB merger

The China Post news staff

TAIPEI, Taiwan — Finance Minister Chang Sheng-ford yesterday reiterated the government’s position against a proposed merger between Chang Hwa Commercial Bank (CHCB) and Taishin Financial Holding. The comments came amid fierce debate among the banks’ directors over the proposal. “If Taishin Financial loves to play, let them play,” Chang said ahead of a meeting of the CHCB board of directors amid speculation that Taishin representatives would try to force through the proposal. Despite Taishin holding five of the nine seats on the board of directors, the proposal was not finalized in the meeting, which saw them argue heatedly with their four counterparts representing the government.

But the Taishin representatives’ support for the proposed merger was recorded in the minutes of the meeting, along with the government side’s objection, according to the Central News Agency. Chang told reporters earlier that his ministry has not changed its position opposing the merger, and he was not worried that Taishin would succeed in forcing through the merger. He said the government representatives to the CHCB board of directors were fully authorized to handle the issue. The Finance Ministry also issued a statement denying newspaper reports that the government was looking to oust CHCB Chairman, Chen Huai-chou — who represents Taishin. Chang added that his ministry never said anything about having Chen replaced, and that it does not have the authority to do so. Observers pointed out that as Taishin holds the majority of the CHCB board of director seats, it is impossible for the government to oust Chen. Meanwhile, Financial Supervisory Commission (FSC) officials said any merger, including the proposed one between Taishin and CHCB, must be examined in terms of the financial health of the parties involved, legal factors, company management and future development, according to the CNA.

The remarks were a reiteration of the principles previously spelled out by the FSC vice chairman, Wang Li-ling, when commenting on Taishin’s bid to merge with CCB. Earlier this week when the new FSC chairman, Tseng Ming-chung, took office, Taishin announced that it would suspend its bid to merge with CCB. But Tarng Chu-li, president of CHCB, has accused Taishing of “lying” about suspending the bid. The FSC officials said the commission hopes harmony can be maintained within the banks in Taiwan, and expressed the hope that the CHBC’s two biggest shareholders can improve mutual communication.