AmBank aims to disburse over RM20b SME loans in next 3 years

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KUALA LUMPUR (April 8): AMMB Holdings Bhd (AmBank Group) is targeting to disburse more than RM20 billion in loans in the next three years to spur development of small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) in Malaysia.

During a media briefing on AmBank Group's SME initiatives, its group chief executive officer Datuk Sulaiman Mohd Tahir said the bank is continuously working to position itself as a leader in SME banking as it ramps up initiatives to support the segment in the country.

Sulaiman said AmBank will be piloting a programme to approve loans within 24 hours starting next month. He said the group has invested RM23 million in the programme, which is one of the various initiatives the bank is looking to roll out to serve their SME clientele.

"One of the issues faced by these SMEs is that when it comes to getting loan financing, sometimes it takes months. So we want to automate the process whereby when an SME makes an application, particulars such as background can be automatically checked and approved in principal, speeding up the process. We can then disburse within a week," said Sulaiman.

He said other initiatives include launching a purpose built SME business banking service centre to assist SMEs in their daily needs. The service centre is expected to be launched in the third quarter of 2019.

For the financial year 2019 which just concluded on March 31, 2019, Sulaiman said he projects that the bank will pose a double-digit growth in SME loans.

In 2018, the bank disbursed RM6.14 billion worth of SME loans, marking a 30.6% growth from RM4.7 billion in 2017.

"We are cautious on this year's overall loan growth performance given market factors. However, the SME segment has shown good growth. We are positive we can record another year of double-digit growth in SME loans," said Sulaiman.

AmBank has previously said it is keeping its 6% loan growth target for FY19 despite Bank Negara Malaysia revising forecasts. Sulaiman said this would mainly be driven by the SME, mid-corp and business banking segments.

At 2.39pm today, shares of AmBank fell 2 sen or 0.5% to RM4.41, with 105,500 shares done. Its market capitalisation stood at RM13.29 billion.