Joan Salafranca and Banco Sabadell
Joan Salafranca is the Chief Representative at Banco de Sabadell, Singapore Representative Office and one of the founding members of the Spanish-Singaporean Chamber of Commerce.
1. Hello Joan, could you please introduce yourself?
I have been the Chief Representative of the Banco Sabadell, Singapore Representative Office, since it was registered with the MAS in 1988 and I have been with the Sabadell Banking Group since 1988. My whole experience with Sabadell has been located in Asia & Australia with my base always in Singapore.
Sabadell was certainly a pioneer setting up foot in Singapore and in Asia and this underpins the Banks’s interest in the whole region.
My professional experience has been mostly in international trade finance and follow later on structured finance. This has intermingled very well with my previous industrial projects experience.
Along these years I have met hundreds of Spanish companies coming to Asia on commercial and investment purposes and it has been indeed a rich experience. I have also met on regular basis the local, regional and international banks and all of this gives Sabadell a particular insight and knowledge on how to advise our corporate clients and follow on the Bank’s business potential in our ASEAN region and Asia in general.
Sabadell has three more Representatives office in Asia, Beijing, Shanghai and New Delhi and those were also set up many years ago. Today the Singapore office covers the ASEAN region and Australia. Shanghai and ND are also both regional offices and altogether we cover from Japan to Pakistan. In addition, the Singapore Representative office is the liaison regional hub for Banco Sabadell – Structured Finance in the whole areas mentioned.
2. When did you arrive in Singapore and what brought you here?
Somehow the chances turn on that way at the end of 1984, I was finishing in Barcelona the ESADE’s Master in International Management which was 2 years and for the last 6 months you had to do an overseas internship, then I learnt of the INFE scholarship (today known as ICEX, under the Foreign Trade of the Spanish Ministry of Commerce) and I took the exams and got it and I was finally sent to Singapore. I arrived here in 1985. Upon finishing my scholarship, I joined the Singapore Office of the Spanish Trading House CGTF. So, I have practically been here since 1985.
It was very difficult, at that time, to get a professional job in Asia with a Spanish corporation, so interest & resilience and randomness play the tricks to find something here.
3. Could you share with us something else regarding the progress of Banco Sabadell in Asia?
I touch first on the Bank activity and then I will explain on the role of the Representative Office. Typically, commercial banks follow on their international trade flow. And from there, they evolve with more sophisticated instruments and finance structures to support and enhance their trade business. This is also how, many years ago, Banco Sabadell started in Asia following and anticipating the needs of the Spanish companies’ trade with this region. Today Banco Sabadell’s activity in Asia has spread to a wide range of products and schemes in the trade finance as well as in the Structure Finance fields. Most of this business activity is done with other Financial Institutions. Just to give some colour, the range of our Head Office activity in Asia, involves from financing & confirming Letters of Credit, Bank Guarantees, Trade Loans, factoring & Supply Chain Finance, ECA financing, structured trade finance to participating in Corporate Credit Syndications, Asset finance and Project Finance.
In Singapore, we are a Representative Office and as such we can only act as a liaison office for our Head Office’s interest in the geographical region that we are covering. We can not transact in any business in Singapore. Thus, a Representative Office is totally different than a Branch.
4. What is your point of view in regards to making business in this country?
Singapore is indeed a rather easy place to do business
and to set-up the structures to undertake projects in Asia. It has the terrific advantage of a robust and efficient Legal System which is well recognized internationally with the Arbitration Court and Mediation Centre being widely used. It has a highly sophisticated international financial centre that plays a critical role to raise funds for Asian and international groups, is in the top in Asia for Trade Finance including commodities. It is quite amazing the variety of the possibilities that offers.
Besides the excellent education system provides a wide pull of well-prepared professionals in all the fields.
Is one of the top friendliest places to conduct business and I never hesitate to recommend it.
5. What is your favourite place in Singapore?
I do love the parks here and of course the flavour of some districts like the East Coast or the China Town part next to Cecil Street.
Thank you for your time Joan!
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