- SBI Holdings make an investment of $10.17 million in Fukushima Bank, the second such investment in a regional bank
- Japan’s ultra-easy monetary policy has the small banks going in losses and turning to form alliances with peers
SBI Holdings Inc. is forming a capital and business alliance with regional Fukushima Bank Ltd., with SBI taking a 17.91% stake in the latter, announced the company on Monday.
Fukushima will issue new shares to SBI for 222 yen each for a total investment of $10.17 million ( ¥1.11 billion), making the Japanese internet banking giant the biggest shareholder in the lender. An official from SBI will also serve on the bank’s board.
Offices will be established in a joint effort where SBI’s insurance, investment trusts, and other products will be provided to Fukushima’s customers.
Also, Fukushima Bank will integrate with Ripple-powered MoneyTap to provide on-demand domestic payment in Japan.
The news took Fukusima’s shares up 32.9% while SBI Holdings fell 0.2% with little change in the broader market.
Japan’s Ultra Easy Monetary Policy Making it Hard to Survive
Fukushima Bank has been struggling with profitability under Japan’s easy monetary policy that includes negative interest rates.
Established in 1922, Fukushima Bank posted a net loss of ¥3.12 billion in the business year ended in March last year. For the first time in seven years, it fell into the red and the Financial Services Agency ordered the bank to improve its business operations. The bank logged a net profit of ¥521 million in the year through March in 2019.
Many small banks have been affected by the rising cost of developing fintech and population decline.
Out of the 105 regional banks, 45 posted losses in their core business for at least two years straight. According to FSA, 27 of them have been reporting losses for over 5 years in a row. As a result, banks have taken to form an alliance with their peers.
As such, back in September, SBI announced an investment of ¥2.5 billion in a regional bank in western Japan, Simane Bank Ltd.
SBI has been expanding its reach by partnering with banks in an effort to as Japan Times put it, become the country’s “fourth mega-bank” and join the likes of Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc., Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group Inc., and Mizuho Financial Group Inc.