| The economic recovery in 1999 renewed prospects for many small-and-medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), increasing the need for recapitalisation and new expansion opportunities.
DBS was well positioned to grow with such businesses, having adopted a more far-sighted outlook in nurturing its partnerships during the economic crisis. To strengthen the competitive position, all business units servicing small- and-medium-sized enterprises, including DBS Finance and DBS Factors, were integrated under a new Enterprise Banking group in 1999.
By strengthening its customer focus, DBS Finance booked credit commitments of more than S$1 billion in 1999. The company continued to lead the industry in hire-purchase equipment financing, securing about 45.5 percent of the market. Car loan activities were especially brisk as a result of successful alliances with car dealers, including an exclusive tie-up with Kah Motor in Singapore to provide attractive financing packages for Honda car buyers.
Healthy Loans and Advances (L&A) growth increased DBS Finance's market share by 18.7 percent despite the intense competition faced in 1999. In the property financing sector, packaged financing schemes targeted potential buyers of units in new industrial and commercial properties in an effort to ride on the improved sentiment in the local property market. These schemes were applied to Ubi Techpark, Excalibur Centre, Wintech Centre, Number One Building and Eunos Techpark.
DBS Factors also saw further growth by focusing on understanding and meeting customer needs. The Factornet service introduced in early 1999 enables invoice details to be transmitted using Electronic Data Interchange (EDI). The unbundling of the traditional factoring service during the year also gave customers the advantage of choosing individual services in credit protection, working capital and collection and receivables management.
These efforts, combined with the economic recovery, increased total invoices factored by 16 percent in 1999. Internationally, DBS Factors was rated sixth out of 73 factoring companies worldwide in Factors Chain International's Import Factors of the Year awards.
Future success will be measured in terms of profitability and customer fulfilment. In this respect, DBS will tap business opportunities in its various regional subsidiaries, continue to harness the latest technology in the service delivery channels and build up its direct resources. The development of a distinctive service and product offering is already underway to be complemented by the restructuring of the branch network and improvements in branch operations in the coming year.