Consolidation, Market Structure and Competition in the Malaysian Banking Industry: Empirical Evidence from Malaysia muhamed-zulkhibri abdul majid


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Consolidation, Market Structure and Competition in the Malaysian Banking Industry: Empirical Evidence from Malaysia


Central Bank of Malaysia

Faculty of Economics, University of Nottingham


Bumiputra-Commerce Bank Berhad (BCB)

Faculty of Business and Accountancy, University of Malaya (UM)


Faculty of Management and Human Resource Development,

University Technology Malaysia

** Corresponding author: Senior Economist in Monetary and Financial Policy Department, Central Bank of Malaysia. Mailing address: Monetary and Financial Policy Department, Bank Negara Malaysia, Jalan Dato’ Onn, 50480 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. e-mail: or, Tel: 603-2698-8044; Fax: 603-2693-5023

* Planning and Research Department (BCB) and Department of Banking and Finance University of Malaya (UM). Mailing address: Bumiputra-Commerce Bank Berhad, Planning and Research Department, 21st Floor, 6 Jalan Tun Perak, 50050 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. e-mail: Tel: 603-2693-6455; Fax: 603-2691-4415
*** Lecturer, Faculty of Management and Human Resource Development, University Technology Malaysia, Skudai, Johor, Malaysia.
# All findings, interpretations, and conclusions are solely of the authors’ opinion and do not necessarily represents the views of the institutions.

Consolidation, Market Structure and Competition in the Malaysian Banking Industry: Empirical Evidence from Malaysia


This paper investigates the effect of bank consolidation on market structure and competition in Malaysian banking industry over the periods 1998-2005. The study evaluates the degree of competition using H-statistic proposed by Panzar and Rosse (1987). The estimated H-statistics are positive ranging from 0.38 to 0.62 and the Wald test for the market structure of monopoly or perfect competition is rejected. The results imply that the financial institutions in Malaysia earned their revenue in the condition of monopolistic competition. The traditional interest-based market however is significantly less competitive than the overall market. The evidence is insufficient to show that there is an increase in competition due to a change in the market structure. Thus, the findings suggest that additional competition policy responses need to be considered to make the Malaysian banking market more competitive in the wave of further bank liberalization.

JEL Classification: G21; D24, L1
Keywords: Competition; Panzar-Rosse model; Malaysia; Market structure (ADD Consolidation, Banking)


Academics and policy makers seem to accept the view that financial institutions play a crucial role in the effective functioning of modern economies. One would expect that the higher the degree of competition, the higher its efficiency in terms of allocating funds and in general operating as an intermediary between depositors and borrowers. There has been considerable concern about how ongoing consolidation in financial systems around the world will affect competition. Indeed, much of the recent public debate seems to assume that perfect competition in banking is ideal. For much of the last century, this has not always been the case where policy-makers focused on stability. Therefore, banking competition generally can be characterized as monopolistic competition that banks do not offer completely homogeneous products (Allen and Gale, 2001).

It is observed that the banking industry in developing economies has been experiencing a fundamental change in its market structure since the Asian financial crisis. One of the main underlying factors behind such a wave of financial consolidation may be the fierce competition among banks triggered by financial deregulation and financial globalization, resulting in a sharp increase in financial management risk. In addition, significant progress in information technology necessitates that banks seek scale economies and risk diversification to gain comparative advantage over rival banks. The financial consolidation in industrial countries has been evolved by market forces. However, the financial consolidation of emerging economies has been forced by government-led structural adjustment policy for the banking industry in order to overcome the financial crisis.
This study is motivated by several factors. First, a number of studies have examined the effects of consolidation on competition and market structure of banking industry; however, these studies have concentrated on developed markets (Molyneux et al. , 1994; Hempell, 2002; Bikker and Groeneveld, 2000). Our study contributes to the literature by comparing the competitive behaviour of Malaysian banking industry before and after the consolidation period. Secondly, a dearth of bank consolidation and competition studies utilizes the non-structural model approach suggested by Panzar and Rosse (1987), and most of them have been concentrated on the developed countries with very few studies on developing countries. Thus, we extend the literature by employing a Panzar and Rosse (1987) model to empirically estimate the competitive behaviour in developing countries specifically Malaysian banking industry. The overall effect of greater concentration can be ambiguous. It can be that the greater bank size can lead to an increase in monopolistic power that causes a rise in lending rates. It can also be that the greater bank size can lead to greater economies of scale (banks are more efficient) and causes a decrease in lending rates. Hence, this is an important issue for policy makers, regulators, researchers and economists.

The paper is structured as follows: Section 2 provides the structure and the trends of market concentration in the Malaysian banking industry during the period of 1997 and 2005. Section 3 elaborates on theoretical model of Panzar-Rosse (1987) and some empirical evidences generated from their model. Section 4 presents the data and the empirical model used in the empirical analysis. Section 5 provides the estimation and results of the H-statistic for the pre- and post-consolidation periods. Section 6 summarizes the paper with some concluding remarks.

At the onset of the crisis the Malaysian banking system is characterized by its high market concentration consisted mainly of three types of institutions: commercial banks (domestic and foreign), finance companies, and merchant banks. Table 1 shows the evolution of the Malaysian banking structure between 1998 and 2005. Domestic commercial banks had the largest share of the market controlling 73.6 percent of the market share in 2005. Among these, the government controlled the largest bank (Maybank) through a majority shareholding and it fully owned the second largest bank, Bumiputra-Commerce Bank. Foreign commercial banks controlled only 19.2 percent of banking assets. Foreign banks do not make any progress in controlling market share because of a deliberate government policy of developing the domestic financial sector, under which foreign banks have been prohibited to open new branches and no new license was granted to foreign institution banks .
[Insert Table 1]

Following the deepening of the financial crisis that struck the region in 1997/98, the Government took stronger measurers to promote merging of banking institutions. A merger program was initiated in 1998 covering only the finance companies initially. The merger program was subsequently extended to include all domestic banking institutions in July 1999 and all domestic banking institutions would be restructured so that six banking groups would be formed. However, as uncertainty remains on the impact of the mergers on the asset quality of the newly formed group, particularly on the anchor banks, and thus the plan was finally halted at the end of September 1999. A new merger plan was announced, whereby all domestic banking institutions must form their own merger groups and choose their own leader in each group by the end of January 200l. In response to this approach, approval was granted for the formation of ten banking groups. It was also intended to avoid the turmoil in the financial markets due to the drastic reduction of financial institutions. The Malaysian banking industry, after its first stage of consolidation that reduced the number of banks to ten anchor banks, is poised to enter a second phase of consolidation. Table 2 shows the banking groups in Malaysia after the completion of the second phase of the consolidation process. This phase of consolidation is beginning to involves mergers between banks and their finance company subsidiaries, and the initial stages of mergers between the country’s remaining ten banking groups.

[Insert Table 2]
The bank consolidation in Malaysia, characterized by the structural adjustment of the banking industry since the currency crisis of 1997, has caused significant change in its market structure. The first phase of structural adjustment during the period of 1998 and 1999 has been carried out to sweep out non-performing banks. Unlike the first phase, the second phase of structural adjustment has been initiated by major large-sized banks to obtain competition power since the 2001 (Bank Negara Malaysia, 2004). As such, each phase of the bank consolidation has been carried out with a contrasting motive. In addition, the bank consolidation in Malaysia has been remarkably characterized by horizontal mergers among banks with overlapping market segmentation. As the banking market structure in Malaysia has been reorganized mainly by several leading banks or financial holding companies, it is observed that the size distribution of banks has been widened. As a consequence, the number of banks has sharply decreased and market concentration in the banking market has markedly increased. Moreover, considering that additional bank mergers are currently in progress, it is expected that market concentration in the Malaysia banking industry will be higher in the near future than at present.

The most frequently applied measures of concentrations, k-bank concentration ratio (CRk) and Herfindahl-Herschman Index (HHI)1. Market concentration is used as a measure of market dominating power within an industry or among companies. Following the step of previous researchers, this paper employ a widely use bank concentration index of the highest two (CR2), three (CR3) and five (CR5) bank total assets, total deposits and total loans as an initial measure. CRk is computed as the sum of top kth-tier firms' market shares and summing only the market shares of the k largest banks in the market, it takes the form:

CRk is a relatively strong measure because it clearly catches the market structure through market shares of a few dominating firms. This index is based on the idea that the behavior of a market is dominated by a small number of large banks. The CRk index is very useful to examine the market influence of a few dominating firms in the market, it is not so useful in grasping the general features of market structure On the other hand, the Herfindahl-Herschman index (HHI) is defined as the sum of the squared market shares of all banks in the market. HHI takes market shares as weights, and stress the importance of large banks by assigning them a greater weight than smaller banks. The HHI can be computed as follows:
where MS is the market share of the ith firm and n is number of firms in the market. HHI has the advantage of including information of the distribution of market share as well as the number of firms which take part in the industry. Having their own merits, both CRk and HHI are widely used as major measures of market concentration. As the market concentration index indicates the possibility of firms' anticompetitive behavior in an industry or a market, many countries' regulatory authorities utilize the index as one of the approval criteria of corporate consolidation.

To examine the trends of market concentration in the Malaysian banking industry we estimate the market concentration index based on CRk and HHI over the period 1998-2005, which includes periods of bank consolidation, restructuring as well as structural reform of the whole banking system. Table 3 shows the HHI, CR2, CR3, CR5 of total assets, total deposits and total loans, as the indicators of market concentration of commercial banks in Malaysia. The results show that Malaysian banking industry HHI estimate is in between 1,231.10-1,644.31 for the periods 1998-2005 which is considered as a moderately concentrated market. For the market with HHI between 1,000 and 1,800, anti-competitive behavior could be exercised when HHI is increased by more than 100 according to the guideline by U.S Department of Justice.

[Insert Table 3]
The market concentration ratio in Malaysian banking industry shows an increasing trend in between 1998-2000, after the first phase of consolidation. The HHI estimate based on total loans increases to 1,644.3 (1,346.4 in 1998), CR2 estimate increases to 0.43 (0.36 in 1998), CR3 estimate increases to 0.58 (0.49 in 1998) and CR5 estimate increases to 0.71 (0.70 in 1998). This increasing trend is due to Government actions to restructure the banking system by including all domestic banking institutions so that six banking groups would be formed and the initial measures to promote merging of finance companies after the crisis in 1998/99. Even though the first phase of consolidation has led to increase in concentration ratios, it was not sufficient to induce the banking system to become anti-competitive. The restructuring of the banking system was mainly to remove the unhealthy financial institutions and to retain sound financial institutions in the system.

The second phase of consolidation is between 2001-2004, where market concentration ratios, HHI, CR2, CR3, and CR5 based on total loans show a decreasing trend of 1,231.1 (1,427.9 in 2001), 0.36 (0.40 in 2001), 0.46 (0.52 in 2001) and 0.62 (0.65 in 2001) respectively. In addition HHI, CR2, CR3, and CR5 based on total deposit reveals a similar trend to that of market concentration based on total loans. These trends indicate the failure of the first plan of consolidation to merge the domestic commercial banks into six anchor banks. It seems to indicate that after the financial crisis in 1998/99, the market concentration ratios reflect the change in the market structure. However, in 2005 the concentration ratios, HHI, CR2, CR3, and CR5 increase sharply based on total loans and total deposits. The sharp increase in the market concentration ratios reflects the changes in the market structure and distribution of market shares derived from the completion of all merger and acquisition exercise during the second phase of consolidation. In these periods, the completion of merger and acquisition has led to the expansion of market share of the remaining financial institutions. Hence, the plan to initiate further merger and acquisition without opening the market to further competition will increase the market concentration and lead to the financial institutions behaving in anti-competitive manner.

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