* Stanchart says organic growth will be primary
* Acquisitions may be considered but difficult
* Sees loans still growing in SE Asia this year
By Gde Anugrah Arka
Ray Ferguson, regional CEO for Southeast Asia including Australia, was responding to questions on whether the bank was considering a bid for the Asian assets of Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS.L), which has announced plans to exit up to 36 countries.
Standard Chartered has been identified as a potential bidder, people with direct knowledge of the matter have told Reuters.
“Our primary way to grow is organic,” Ferguson said. “That is the primary driver. We don’t need to do acquisitions in order to grow but there are a lot of opportunities out there. They are not easy, deals are much harder to do, they take longer.
“We are an Asian player and you would expect that as an Asian player that we probably want to have a look at it but it’s a long way from anything being concluded,” he told Reuters in an interview on the sidelines of the Asian Development Bank’s annual meeting on the Indonesian resort island of Bali.
Ferguson also said he expected loans to grow this year in Southeast Asia and the bank was particularly bullish on Vietnam. He did not give historical figures.
“I don’t think we have the same issues as we have in Europe. I think the Asian banks are not broken. The banks in Asia have not had the sort of stress or troubles that some banks in Western Europe and the U.S. have. We are absolutely open for business, and are growing.
“We have good strong start to the year, well I think relative to what we saw in the last quarter of the year,” he added.
Ferguson also said he expected economies in the region to improve next year and that a recovery in Asia would be much quicker than in Europe and the United States.
“I think this year we start to feel that it’s beginning to bottom and will rebuild quicker in Asia,” he said.
Ferguson is also president commissioner of Indonesia’s Bank Permata (BNLI.JK), one of the country’s top 10 banks, as well as chariman of Standard Chartered Bank (Thai) PCL, and deputy chairman of Standard Chartered Bank Malaysia Berhad.
He said he was upbeat on the long-term economic prospects of Vietnam.
“Business is doing well, great long term play. Vietnam (is) a great 10-15 year play.” Ferguson said.
“Very exited. Long-term structure of the economy, attractiveness for investment, factories moving fron different parts of Asia.” (Editing by James Jukwey)