JPMorgan to Close Malaysian Unit

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JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM) is planning to shut down its retail banking operations in Malaysia. The company is aiming to limit its retail banking operations worldwide with a major focus in the domestic markets, but willing to continue with its wholesale banking operations globally.

Malaysian retail banking is JPMorgan’s only retail presence in Asia. However, the closure of this unit is unlikely to affect the company’s overall business in the Asian region, given its small size. In addition to retail banking, JPMorgan offers a wide range of other banking services including investment banking, equities trading, treasury and security services as well as corporate banking in Malaysia.

JPMorgan is not the only bank shuttering its Asian operations. Netherlands-based ING Groep NV (ING) is also aiming to divest its Asian assets, especially the insurance and investment-management businesses by the end of 2013 for repaying the $13 billion (€10 billion) state financial aid, which it received from the Dutch government during the financial crisis in 2008.

As a part of this strategy, ING Groep has already sold its insurance operations in Malaysia to AIA Group Ltd. (AIA) and divested Thailand Asset management business to Singapore’s United Overseas Bank Ltd.  Apart from this, ING announced the divestiture of its insurance business, pension and financial planning divisions in Hong Kong and Macau as well as its life insurance operations in Thailand to Pacific Century Group.

Currently, JPMorgan retains a Zacks #3 Rank, which translates into a short-term Hold rating. Considering the fundamentals, we also maintain a long-term Neutral recommendation on the stock.

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