Malayan Banking Bhd (Maybank) has become the first Malaysian bank to enter into the world’s top 20 strongest banks based on a financial evaluation undertaken by ‘Bloomberg Markets’ magazine. Maybank was ranked 13th in the elite global group of banks of assets of over US$100 billion based on, among other things, its capital strength, asset quality, strong reserves as well as deposit and funding strength. Other factors where Malaysia’s largest bank scored highly in ‘Bloomberg Markets’ third annual ranking of the world’s strongest banks included cost efficiency and risk managemnent, the magazine said in a report published on the Bloomberg website. Maybank’s president/chief executive officer, Datuk Seri Abdul Wahid Omar, attributed the ranking to tough supervision by Bank Negara Malaysia and new stress testing and risk-control measures inside the bank. Qatar National Bank came out tops in the ranking. It was followed by Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp Ltd (Singapore), which fell from first place in 2012 and 2011, Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, Royal Bank of Canada, DBS Group Holdings, United Overseas Bank, Bank of Nova Scotia (Canada), Toronto-Dominion Bank, Citigroup and Hang Seng Bank (Hong Kong). According to the ‘Bloomberg Markets’ report, Maybank scored highly in loan-loss reserves to non-performing assets and deposits to funding as well as efficiency which was based on costs to revenue. To identify the world’s strongest banks, ‘Bloomberg Markets’ evaluated 78 banks with total assets of US$100 billion or more as of mid-March including interviewing its top officials. Maybank now has 2,200 branch offices in 20 countries and owes its size and strength to the aftermath of the 1997 to 1998 Asian financial crisis, which forced the devaluation of the region’s currencies and the near collapse of a dozen Indonesian, Malaysian, South Korean and Thai banks. In Kuala Lumpur, Bank Negara orchestrated mergers that combined the country’s 60-plus financial institutions into 10 big commercial banking groups, now reduced to eight. Maybank emerged from that shake-up as Malaysia’s biggest lender. It has since expanded further to become the fourth-biggest bank by assets in South-East Asia. Maybank earned 30 per cent of its pre-tax profit from overseas operations last year, the bulk of it from Indonesia and Singapore. As the Kuala Lumpur-based lender, which includes an Islamic-banking unit, Maybank has expanded, it’s also strengthened its risk management team. Abdul Wahid said: “We needed to make sure that we have the right people with the right skills to manage our risks.” “That has been done. There’s now a risk-control team embedded in every key division of the bank,” a spokesman said.