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Govt backs idea of Fijian bank with large market share

March 4, 2021 4:55 pm

The government believes it is time for Fiji to have a locally owned bank with a large footprint in the financial sector.

FBC News understands HFC Bank and the Fiji National Provident Fund have expressed an interest in buying Westpac Bank’s Fiji operations from Kina Securities.

Westpac Banking Corporation sold its Pacific arm including Fiji, to Papua New Guinea based Kina Securities, late last year.

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Economy Minister, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, says while he is not privy to any discussion of this nature, the government would back any moves for a locally owned bank to be a major player in the banking industry.

“From an overall economic perspective, we would like to see a 100 per cent owned bank in Fiji have a much larger share of the market.”

Sayed-Khaiyum says countries with robust financial institutions or banking systems have fairly large 100% domestic owned banks because determinations on risk are always made by the head office.

“If your head office is sitting outside of Fiji, in Paris, Port Moresby or Melbourne or sitting in Mumbai or Delhi, the way they will do the risk in Fiji will be very different to HFC which is based here in Fiji.”

The National Bank of Fiji was a substantial market player within the banking system in its time but failed due to abuse and mishandling of funds by those in charge at the time.

FBC News has sent questions to Kina Securities and FNPF.

HFC Chief Executive, Rakesh Ram, has responded to our questions saying he is not aware of any such discussion.

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