Portuguese state financial group Caixa Geral de Depósitos (CGD) plans, from a base in Macau where it has a significant presence through the Banco Nacional Ultramarino (BNU), plans to function as a business facilitator between China and the Portuguese-speaking countries, the group’s “Chief China Officer”, Alberto Soares, told Macauhub.
Taking into account the role already played and yet to be played by Macau with regard to the relationship between China and the Portuguese-speaking countries, CGD decided to assign a senior official, in collaboration with BNU, to provide support to Portuguese companies and the Portuguese-speaking countries wishing to do business with China, and Chinese companies wishing to establish business relations with those countries.
Soares, who is responsible for carrying out this plan at CGD, told Macauhub that the idea behind this decision is related to the effort that the Portuguese state group has been making for some years to “maximise the potential of the group’s international network.”
CGD has a unique position worldwide for this business as it is the only this bank in seven of the eight Portuguese-speaking countries – Angola, Brazil, Cabo Verde (Cape Verde), Mozambique, Portugal, Sao Tome and Principe and Timor -Leste (East Timor) – the only exception being Guinea-Bissau.
In Angola the group is present through Banco Caixa Geral Angola, Brazil has Banco Caixa Geral Brasil, in Cabo Verde it controls two banks, Banco Comercial do Atlântico and Banco Interatlântico, in Mozambique it is in the market through Banco Comercial e de Investimentos in Sao Tome and Principe it owns the International Bank of Sao Tome and Principe and in Timor-Leste there is BNU Timor.
Besides the presence in seven of the eight Portuguese-speaking countries, Caixa Geral de Depósitos is the market leader in five of them – Portugal, Cabo Verde, Sao Tome and Principe, Mozambique and Timor-Leste – and in the case of Mozambique recently took leadership in terms of total assets, pushing out Banco Millennium Mocambique, of the Banco Comercial Portugues group.
In Portugal the group has 721 branches, 4 million customers, more than a third of the Portuguese population, total assets exceeding 100 billion euros and a market share of deposits of 28 per cent and 22 per cent of loans, and is considered to be the country’s main bank.
In Macau, the CGD group is present through BNU for universal banking, which operates together with the Bank of China to issue currency in the territory. BNU has 18 branches, over 200,000 customers, or a third of Macau’s population, and has total assets of over 7.5 billion euros.
And it is precisely in Macau that efforts are being made to establish a bridge between China and the Portuguese-speaking countries taking advantage of the importance of the BNU and, specifically, the cooperation protocol that the bank signed with the Bank of China Macau.
The “Chief China Officer” referred to Macau as being “a very important operation,” where the CGD group’s efforts are focused to deepen the relationship between China and the Portuguese-speaking countries for two reasons – the local implementation of BNU – and, more importantly, the fact that the central government of China decided to make the territory a platform for the establishment of trade and economic relations with these countries.
“I cannot reveal the names of companies but I can guarantee that there have been good practical results in both directions,” Soares said, stressing the good understanding and cooperation that has existed with the Macau Institute for Trade and Investment Promotion (IPIM) .
In practical terms, based on a network of international departments, a customer of BNU or any other bank in the group can count on support in any of the countries in which CGD is present in terms of finance, information, access to markets and “matchmaking”.
“There has been direct support for operations in all Portuguese-speaking countries, particularly for Chinese companies that have approached us due to the cooperation protocol BNU has with the Bank of China,” added the “Chief China Officer” of the CGD Group and non-executive director of the BNU.
Soares also told Macauhub that, under the terms of protocol signed with the Bank of China, a mechanism is being prepared to make it possible to use China’s currency – the renminbi – throughout the group’s international network in commercial transactions and in other business between China and the Portuguese-speaking countries.
Pedro Cardoso, chairman of the Executive Committee of BNU, recently said the bank’s business with the Portuguese-speaking countries grew 153 per cent in 2015 and, in the specific case of Portuguese customers, growth was 395 per cent.
Cardoso gave assurances that there was still a lot of room for growth in this type of relationship, although in the recent past it has experienced a significant contraction of the trade relationship between China and the Portuguese-speaking countries. (Macauhub)