CEO: Grab stake buy in AmBank remain rumours

by ANIS HAZIM / pic by TMR

TALK of Grab Holdings Inc looking to acquire a stake in AMMB Holdings Bhd (AmBank) remains a rumour at the moment, said AmBank group CEO Datuk Sulaiman Mohd Tahir (picture).

The talk of a potential stake buy comes despite Grab recently being granted a digital bank licence by Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) with partners GXS Bank Pte Ltd.

“It is just a rumour as of now, but clearly they have got a licence now. The question is, would they want to invest in a physical bank?” Sulaiman told reporters at the AmBank financial year 2022 (FY22) virtual media conference today.

He foresees the “rumour” will certainly be positive to AmBank, especially in terms of business collaboration. 

“If they took a stake in the bank — from a collaboration perspective — it is something that has to be good for us. But then again, this remains conjecture and there’s nothing yet on the table. I don’t see this happening for the time being,” he said.

The Singapore-based e-hailing company reported to be eyeing the shares in AmBank held by Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Ltd (ANZ) and retired AmBank chairman Tan Sri Azman Hashim.

When asked if AmBank will revisit a merger proposal with RHB Bank Bhd, the CEO stated that the plan will be costly to realise.

“The acquisition of banks nowadays, especially with physical channels — it is a very expensive exercise.

“If you want to buy a physical bank, you need to deal with the branches and the staff, and I’m not sure this will be favourable in terms of the current banking industry,” he stated.

He noted that the banking industry prefers to grow the customer base digitally as well.

“I don’t think in this new world we will see a lot of those (merger and acquisition) happening, rather, we will see a lot of banks going into the digital space,” he further said.