California Connections; Peter Pan of Development Bank of Singapore Cultivates Economic Ties in Anticipation of West Coast Resurgence

By Luke, Robert | American Banker, July 29, 1986 | Go to article overview

California Connections; Peter Pan of Development Bank of Singapore Cultivates Economic Ties in Anticipation of West Coast Resurgence


Luke, Robert, American Banker


California Connections

Peter Tan of Development Bank of Singapore cultivates economic ties in anticipation of West Coast resurgence.

CONSIDER Peter Tan a go-between.

As head of the Los Angeles agency of the Development Bank of Singapore, Mr. Tan facilitates economic ties between East and West.

"This market has a lot of potential,' says the 38-year-old banker, noting the substantial flows of trade between Asia and California and the growing number of Asian immigrants who now call the Golden State their home.

For example, Bank of America economists predict that California's population will continue to grow at twice the national rate, largely because of in-migration. By the end of 1987, they think that nearly one million more people, including many Asians, will have moved here.

This, and other factors, including a hoped-for recovery in the state's electronics industry, prompt Bank of America economists to predict robust economic growth for the state over the next two years.

Development Bank of Singapore hopes to capitalize on that growth. The agency, which opened in 1982, already provides U.S.-dollar loans to several American electronics firms that have moved most of their manufacturing to Singapore, Taiwan, and Korea, where Development Bank also has offices.

The agency, with a staff of six, also helps finance U.S. exports to those countries and helps Singapore-based firms here finance imports to America.

Mr. Tan, who is taking up golf in addition to a thrice-weekly jogging regimen, says the agency also provides foreign exchange services to U.S. firms interested in acquiring or selling Singapore dollars.

"We also use California as an area to pursue U.S. dollar funds for our parent group,' says Mr. Tan, referring to the Development Bank of Singapore Group, which has banking, real estate, and insurance interests. Development Bank, with assets of about $10 billion as of Dec. 31, is majority owned by agencies of the Singapore government.

"We also help Singaporean investors who may be interested in real estate investments in the United States,' says Mr. Tan, who is fluent in both English and Mandarin. "For instance, if a Singapore investor wants to invest in an office block, we can finance him. Or, if he wants to buy a house or income-producing condos, we can assist him.'

Mr. Tan, a bachelor who lives in Hancock Park, Calif., says that many foreign banks here generate the bulk of their business from their own nationals.

"Foreigners who come here have substantial assets back home but have trouble in getting credit from U.S. banks,' observes Mr. Tan, a former treasurer of Development Bank of Singapore's international department.

Partly because of its size--the agency has assets of about $20 million, according to Mr. Tan--it is unable to offer certain retail banking products and services, such as credit cards, to customers, which include many from Singapore, Indonesia, and Hong Kong.

"We refer them to U.S. correspondent banks [for those services],' says Mr. Tan, who makes the 19-hour flight home at least once a year. One of Development Bank of Singapore's correspondents is the Union Bank, the Los Angeles-based subsidiary of the Standard Chartered Bank. …

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