© Reuters. DBS CEO Piyush Gupta speaks during a Reuters Newsmaker event in Singapore September 14, 2023. REUTERS/Mindy Tan
By Yantoultra Ngui and Fanny Potkin
SINGAPORE (Reuters) -DBS Group Chief Executive Piyush Gupta said current widespread pessimism about China’s economy was not “overdone” but he was upbeat about India, where the bank plans to triple its business in the next five years.
“There’s some real headwinds in China in the short-term”, he told a Reuters Newsmaker event in Singapore, noting the crisis in its debt-ridden property sector.
“The real estate sector overhang is material, and it’s not easy to clean up.”
Gupta said, however, that there were still sectors in China with strong growth prospects, such as electric vehicles, and that DBS plans to increase its stake in Shenzhen Rural Commercial Bank, which he expects will list on the stock market in the future. DBS bought 13% of the Chinese bank in 2021.
DBS, Southeast Asia’s largest bank by assets, aims to triple its business in India in the next five years, Gupta also said.
The bank has been in India for nearly 30 years and operates about 530 branches in 19 Indian states, according to its website.
Gupta said DBS’s wealth management business has benefited from inflows from across Asia, the Middle East and European regions recently and that the bank expects net inflows to be “pretty strong” going forward.
He said wealth management was one of the best performing segments in the financial services sector and that the industry could support a high number of participants. His comments come in the wake of UBS Group’s emergency takeover of rival Credit Suisse.
Singapore has seen strong inflows from wealthy customers amid global uncertainty, including U.S.-China geopolitical tensions, due to the city-state’s status as a financial safe-haven.
The inflows and higher interest rates globally have boosted earnings for Singapore banks. DBS has predicted a record year for 2023 after posting a forecast-beating 48% jump in second-quarter profit.