East West Bank toasts Houston merger with high-level reception

Updated: 2014-04-03 11:11

By May Zhou in Houston (China Daily USA)

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Los Angeles-based East West Bank (EWB) held a reception in Houston for more than 100 local officials, community leaders and business partners to celebrate its acquisition of MetroCorp, which will give it branches in Houston and Dallas.

EWB Chairman and CEO Dominic Ng flew to Houston from Los Angeles for the event on Tuesday night at the Asia Society Texas Center.

EWB completed the purchase of Houston-based MetroCorp in January, acquiring the company's outstanding shares for an aggregate purchase price of approximately $273 million. As of June 30, 2013, MetroCorp reported total assets of $1.6 billion, total loans of $1.2 billion and total deposits of $1.3 billion.

The acquisition puts EWB in the Houston and Dallas markets with MetroCorp's 12 branches in the cities. It also gives EWB six branches in Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Diego, making that city a new market for EWB, and added office presence in Xiamen and Chongqing in China.

Wendy Cai-Lee, EWB's executive vice-president, told the guests that the bank made the right decision to be in Texas because the state is the third-largest US exporter to China, Houston is the second-largest US city in terms of foreign investment and 550 companies in Houston have set up more than 3,000 subsidiaries in China. "Let us be the financial bridge to truly bring East and West together," she said.

Ng is no stranger to Houston. A graduate of the University of Houston, he spent his first nine years in the US in the city and calls it his first home.

"When I started at EWB 23 years ago, the bank was mostly serving the Asian-American community. I thought we ought to expand and reach out to the mainstream community so that we can be a true east west bank," he told the guests.

EWB's assets have grown to $26 billion today from $600 million 23 years ago.

"Because of our dedication and focus on US-China trade and investment, we have helped a lot of customers in the US to tap into capital from China," Ng said. "Many of our US customers are exporting goods to China or importing from China. We will continue to focus on this and grow this business in Houston."

Ng said EBW has branches in Hong Kong, Shanghai and Shantou, and will soon open branches in Shenzhen and the Shanghai Free Trade Zone. EWB also plans to expand its offices in Beijing, Taipei, Xiamen and Chongqing into full-service branches.

Ng said the Metro merger has been smooth and that EWB hopes to complete systems integration with Metro by the end of May, and then will focus on providing online banking, mobile-phone banking and RMB services not currently available in the former Metro branches.

China's Consul General in Houston Xu Erwen told the reception's guests that with its business focus on the US and greater China, EWB has the advantage of better understanding the two cultures and differences between the East and West.


 East West Bank toasts Houston merger with high-level reception

China's Consul General Xu Erwen (center) and EWB Chairman and CEO Dominic Ng (second from left) mingle with guests at the bank's reception on Tuesday night in Houston. May Zhou / China Daily

(China Daily USA 04/03/2014 page2)