FIJI NATIONAL BANK SEARCHING FOR STRATEGIC PARTNER

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SUVA, Fiji Islands (October 12, 1998 - PACNEWS/Amy)---Fiji's National Bank still is searching for a strategic partner to provide long-term management and financial backing.

The bank's outgoing chief manager, Ken McArthur, said there is a need to have a strategic partner to provide the bank with much-needed expertise at the management level.

The Fiji Cabinet announced in August that it was negotiating the sale of a 49 percent share in the bank. Both local and overseas partners are being sought.

BA CHAMBER OF COMMERCE RECOMMENDS BANKING CHANGES

SUVA, Fiji Islands (October 6, 1998 - PACNEWS/Amy)---Viti Levu Island's Ba Chamber of Commerce claims that a near monopoly exists in Fiji's banking industry.

In its submission to the Committee of Inquiry into Financial Services, the Chamber said the Bankers Association acts as a cartel and most of the terms, governing rates and charges are practically the same throughout Fiji.

The Chamber reported that 75 percent of the banking business is controlled by two major banks and suggested that this needs to be changed.

The Chamber has asked the committee to recommend that banks lower some banking charges and change hours of operation to accommodate businesses that operate 24-hours a day.

The Committee of Inquiry is now hearing submissions in the Northern Division.

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