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Daiwa, Asahi banks merge within Resona group.

TOKYO, March 1 Kyodo

Daiwa Bank and Asahi Bank, the core banks in the Resona Group, integrated their operations on Saturday to launch Resona Bank and Saitama Resona Bank.

Unlike the four biggest banking groups like Mizuho Holdings Inc. and Mitsubishi Tokyo Financial Group Inc., which mainly cater to major corporate customers and individuals across the nation, the Resona Group banks aim to become ''super-regional banks'' to provide services to small companies and individual clients in local areas.

Both Resona Bank and Saitama Resona Bank will operate as wholly owned subsidiaries of Resona Holdings Inc. The two banks will kick off actual operations for borrowers and depositors on Monday.

Resona Bank, based in Osaka, has emerged as the biggest bank in the Resona Group with a network of 367 branches in western and eastern Japan and a capital of 443.1 billion yen.

The 367 branches comprise the 181 branches taken over from Daiwa Bank and the 186 branches taken over from Asahi Bank.

Saitama Resona Bank, based in Saitama City, Saitama Prefecture, north of Tokyo, inherited 100 branches previously operated by Asahi in the prefecture. Including three new branches set up in Tokyo, the bank, which is capitalized at 50 billion yen, will run a network of 113 branches.

Yasuhisa Katsuta, who had been president of Daiwa Bank until Friday, assumed the presidency of Resona Bank, which has 13,300 employees. Katsuta will remain the president of Resona Holdings.

Tadahiro Tone, a former Asahi Bank board member, became president of Saitama Resona Bank, leading 3,000 employees.

Resona Bank has a deposit base of 21.6 trillion yen and outstanding loans of 21.7 trillion yen, while Saitama Resona Bank has deposits of 8.2 trillion yen and outstanding loans of 5 trillion yen.

On Feb. 12, Resona Holdings said it expects to post a group net loss of 185 billion yen for fiscal 2002 which ends on March 31, reversing its earlier forecast of a 3 billion yen profit.

Resona said it revised its earnings outlook downward because it has to book greater-than-expected loan-loss charges and latent losses on securities holdings in the year to March 31.

On Thursday, Resona Holdings said it expects to boost its capital base by 100 billion yen by March 31.

Katsuta then said Resona Holdings has sought capital subscriptions from domestic corporate clients in amounts ranging from several hundred million yen to several billion yen.

In addition, he said two overseas business partners -- the French financial group Credit Agricole and the Hong Kong-based Bank of East Asia -- have pledged to cooperate in the recapitalization plan.

With the capital increase, Resona Holdings expects to maintain its group capital-adequacy ratio at 7% to 7.5%, higher than the 4% required by Japanese banking regulators for banks operating domestically.

Resona Holdings also controls Kinki Osaka Bank, Nara Bank and Resona Trust & Banking Co.

Resona Bank says it has taken its name from the Latin word ''resona'' meaning resonance, which sounds similar to the Japanese word ''riso'' meaning ideal.
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Publication:Japan Weekly Monitor
Geographic Code:9JAPA
Date:Mar 3, 2003
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