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ANZ-OCBC To Invest $100 Million In Asia-Pac Internet Bank

[Sydney, AUSTRALIA} Australia's ANZ and Singapore's OCBC announced a US $100 million joint-venture Monday that they hope will create Asia's leading Internet bank. The 2 banks will invest the $100 million over the next 3 years and expect the JV to be earnings positive in 2002.

Both banks rank in the top 4 of their respective nations and now hope to capture the hearts and more importantly the wallets of the region's "40 million 'wired affluent' consumers that are expected in Asia by 2005."

"Both organizations see this as a regional growth opportunity," said ANZ spokesman Paul Edwards.

ANZ and OCBC already have Internet subsidiaries off the ground, ANZ with ANZ.com in Australia and OCBC with finatiQ. "ANZ and OCBC Bank's complementary networks, which include banking licences in all the major Asian countries, provide a natural foundation for the joint venture," said ANZ CEO John McFarlane in a statement to the ASX.

Hong Kong-based online stockbroker BOOM.COM in which ANZ holds a 10% stake, will be the first partner of the ANZ-OCBC joint-venture.

OCBC's CEO Alex Au said, "The joint venture forms part of OCBC Bank's $590 million e-commerce strategy which includes the creation of new business models to take it to the forefront of the e-financial landscape."

ANZ is set to announce more of its Asia-Pacific strategy at an analyst briefing on Tuesday. ANZ stock closed down 1.25% at AUS $12.65 Monday while the Singapore listed OCBC was up 2.48% at Sing $12.40 with half an hour of trade remaining.

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