Hong Leong Bank
|Industry||Banking and Finance|
|Founder(s)||LAM Ji Chiew|
|Headquarters||Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia|
|Products||Banking and Finance Services|
|Revenue||RM6.61 billion (2007)|
Hong Leong Bank was founded by Mr LAM Ji Chiew and began its operations in 1905 in Kuching, Sarawak under the name of Kwong Lee Mortgage & Remittance Company. The company granted loans against the security of export commodities such as pepper, rubber and other indigenous products. It also provided the services of remitting money of overseas Chinese to their families in Southeast region of China.
In the initial years, the company went through a difficult period of growth when a number of economic crises occurred. The First World War broke out in 1914 causing panic in the financial circles. A few years after hostilities ended, the Post-war Recession of 1920-1921 set in. After the Recession, the company opened its branch in Sibu in 1923 and three years later another branch was opened in Singapore in 1926. The year 1929 saw the start of the Great Depression that lasted until 1933. The Depression caused a sharp fall in the export earnings of commodities and many business concerns, including some banks, were in financial difficulties.
Kwong Lee Mortgage and Remittance Company survived all these setbacks because of its strong cash reserves and its conservative operational policy. Immediately after the Depression, on 26 October 1934, the company was converted into a public company under the name Kwong Lee Bank and shortly after, the third branch of the Bank was opened in Sarikei in 1937
The Second World War caused a temporary disruption in the currency and banking system. After the war the immediate task was one of reconstruction and rehabilitation. In this connection, Kwong Lee Bank played an important role to revive confidence and business activities by providing financing to enable old businesses to be resumed and new ones to be set up. The aftermath of the war saw the continued expansion of the Bank, and in 1964, Oversea-Chinese Banking Corporation of Singapore (OCBC Bank) under the stewardship of Tan Chin Tuan (its then Chairman and Managing Director) acquired a 52% majority stake in Kwong Lee Bank from the Lam family.
In 1973, Kwong Lee Bank opened another branch in Bintangor.
Expansion in Peninsular Malaysia 
In late 1977, Yang Amat Mulia Tunku Osman Ibni Tunku Temenggong Ahmad, a member of the royal family from the State of Johor, came in as a shareholder of the Bank and acquired 30% of its share capital from both OCBC Bank and the Lam family. The period subsequent to this saw a change in the direction of Kwong Lee Bank's expansion. From five banking branch offices in Sarawak (Kuching, Sibu, Sarikei, Serian and Bintangor) and one in Singapore, the Bank expanded its operations to Peninsular Malaysia when it opened its first branch in Kuala Lumpur in May 1978 and this was followed by another branch in Johor Bahru during the same month. Over the next four years, a total of six branches were opened in Labis, Segamat, Bintulu, Kota Tinggi, Kota Kinabalu and Kluang and on 1 January 1982, the Head Office was relocated from Kuching to Kuala Lumpur.
In May 1982, Kwong Lee Bank Berhad was acquired by the MUI Group, a corporate group controlled by Malaysian business tycoon Tan Sri Dato Khoo Kay Peng. Exiting shareholders include OCBC Bank (which acquired a stake in the bank in 1964) and members of the Lam family (relatives and descendants of the founder Lam Ji Chiew). Kwong Lee Bank Berhad was renamed Malayan United Bank Berhad on 2 February 1983. Subsequently it was renamed MUI Bank Bhd. Under the MUI banner the bank grew from 11 branches (including Singapore) to 35 branches.
On 3 January 1994, the Hong Leong Group Malaysia acquired MUI Bank Berhad through Hong Leong Credit Berhad and renamed it as Hong Leong Bank Berhad (HLBB). The acquisition of MUI Bank Berhad by Hong Leong Group Malaysia (which is controlled by Malaysian business tycoon Quek Leng Chan) followed shortly after an aborted takeover attempt of the MUI Group by another Malaysian tycoon Tan Sri Dato Vincent Tan Chee Yioun (through his vehicle Berjaya Corporation).
HLBB was listed on the Kuala Lumpur Stock Exchange on 17 October 1994 with its total paid up capital enlarged to RM 470 million. Since then, the growth of the Bank has been remarkable.
The consolidation of the banking institution to meet the requirements of Bank Negara Malaysia marks another milestone for Hong Leong Bank Berhad. The completion of the merger of Hong Leong Bank with Wah Tat Bank and Hong Leong Finance with Credit Corporation Malaysia on 1 January 2001 marks the emergence of a larger banking group.
HLBB is a member of the Hong Leong Group. The Group has diversified businesses in financial services, manufacturing, property and infrastructure development.
See also 
- Yvonne Chia, CEO of Hong Leong Bank