To celebrate its 70th anniversary, Chong Hing Bank engaged Jinan University professor Feng Bangyen to write a book to chronicle the bank's development over the years.
Chief executive Zong Jianxin invited me to a meeting to specifically tell me about the book titled Bu duan chao yue, Gen jia you xiu -- beyond excellence.
Feng worked in Hong Kong in the 1970s and then returned to the mainland to research work. One of his specialties is Hong Kong financial institutions, about which he has authored many books.
Chong Hing was founded by Chiuchow businessman Liu Po-shan and was famous for creative products and promotion. It was the first Chinese-capital bank to use advertisements to attract customers and was once seen, together with Hang Seng, as most solid of local banks.
The bank has remained robust through the years, having weathered many ups and downs, including the stormy days of the banking sector in the 1960s.
The Liu family sold the bank to Guangzhou's Yue Xiu group some years ago.
Feng spoke to the bank's former helmsman, Liu Lit-chi, and staff in concluding the bank was vibrant before it changed hands, so there wasn't any compelling reason for it to be sold.
In deciding to divest of its interest in the bank, in fact, one of the Liu family's main considerations was succession arrangements. I think the transaction is worthy of being included in case studies of mergers and acquisitions by mainland capital.
After the takeover transition was completed, Yue Xiu engaged Zong, who had worked at the Hong Kong Industrial and Commercial Bank, to head Chong Hing. It also secured fresh capital injection from the Guangzhou Metro group to pave the way for business growth locally and in the mainland.
With the bank in good hands, the Liu family bowed out with honor. The ownership change served the interests of individual shareholders and enabled the enterprise to further develop. It was a smart move that was preferable to continuing to run the bank in its set ways.
Siu Sai-wo is publisher of Sing Tao Daily