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Billionaire Wee Cho Yaw’s UOB Invests $375 Million In Regional Banking Tech Hub In Singapore


Wee Ee Cheong, chief executive officer of United Overseas Bank (UOB), attends a news conference in … [+] Singapore, on Friday, February 22, 2019.

Ore Huiying/Bloomberg

United Overseas Bank—controlled by banking and real estate billionaire Wee Cho Yaw—said Tuesday it will invest S$500 million ($375 million) to build a technology and innovation hub in the northeastern Singapore town of Punggol to support the lender’s push across Southeast Asia.

The 300,000-square feet facility—which will be located within the Punggol Digital District, the city-state’s first smart district that’s being developed by industrial estate developer Jurong Town Corp.— will house about 3,000 employees in technology, innovation and digital roles when completed by the end of 2026. UOB has been stepping up investments in digital technologies. Earlier this week, it partnered with Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba’s Lazada to develop payments and financial services across its key Southeast Asian markets.

“Our investment here reinforces our commitment to grow our Singapore core, and to support our customers in Singapore and across ASEAN on their digital journey,” Wee Ee Cheong, deputy chairman and CEO of UOB, said in a statement. “We look forward to working with the vibrant ecosystem of partners here to accelerate innovation, talent building and sustainability.” Ee Cheong is the eldest son of Wee Cho Yaw, chairman emeritus of UOB.

The lender’s investment in the Punggol technology hub comes as UOB consolidates its operations across Southeast Asia after acquiring Citibank’s consumer banking franchises across Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam for S$4.9 billion.

The deal, which was first announced in January 2022, doubled UOB’s customer base to more than 5 million and has helped boost earnings. The bank’s core net profit climbed 18% to a record S$4.8 billion last year.

UOB was cofounded in 1935 by Wee Cho Yaw’s father Wee Khiang Cheng as United Chinese Bank. Apart from his controlling interest in the bank, Wee, 94, holds significant stakes in real estate companies including UOL Group and Kheng Leong. With a net worth of $6.8 billion, he was ranked No. 9 on the list of Singapore’s 50 Richest that was published last September.

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