SINGAPORE (June 25): Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp is in the enviable position of being early to a party that might be quickly getting into full swing.
Last year, China began referring to a “Greater Bay Area” comprising Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macau. Since then, the term has come to represent a broad initiative to link up nine cities in the Pearl River Delta (PRD) region — Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Zhuhai, Foshan, Zhongshan, Dongguan, Huizhou, Jiangmen and Zhaoqing — with Hong Kong and Macau to form an economic and business hub. The GBA covers less than 1% of China’s land area and is home to less than 5% of its population, but contributed 12% of China’s GDP last year.
OCBC happens to have established a major beachhead in this GBA, putting it in a strong position to capture the burgeoning flows of capital, trade and wealth. It could emerge as a unique financial services platform, connecting China’s GBA with the economies of Southeast Asia. With shares in OCBC trading well over their book value, this could be just what is needed for its stock to hold the attention of analysts and investors.