The Citigroup Inc, the world's largest financial service company, yesterday reshuffled its management in Asia for the second time in six months, promoting Chan Tze-ching (陳子政), country officer of Citibank Taiwan, to head the bank's global corporate investment banking in the greater China market.
"Taiwan has become [the firm's] biggest profit center in Asia," Chan told reporters yesterday, adding that, "2004 was also a record year for Taiwan with [the bank's] pre-tax revenues exceeding those in Hong Kong and South Korea."
Chan, who was formerly the bank's country officer in Hong Kong, will return to Hong Kong in the near future, and will also retain his position as chairman of the operating committee for the firm's Global Corporate and Investment Banking venture in greater China.
His replacement in Taiwan is yet to be decided, although he expressed hope that "the new appointment will be finalized in the next few weeks before the Chinese Lunar New Year [in mid February]."
"I'd like to recommend some suitable candidates [to take over my position] from the local talent pool, although the possibility of appointing an expatriate country officer isn't ruled out," Chan added, expressing the bank's commitment to the local financial market.
Vowing to spend one third of his future time in Taiwan, Chan said that, after assuming his new position, his priority will be the facilitation of a greater China platform to integrate banking businesses in China, Hong Kong and Taiwan.
He added that his Taiwan experience -- he replaced Eric Chen (陳聖德) in March 2003 -- will be a plus to his new position since he is now familiar with the Taiwan-China business model, after seeing increasing numbers of Taiwanese businesses in the manufacturing sector branch into Chinese markets.
"Taiwanese businesses have to set up shop in China to beef up their competitiveness against other Asian rivals," he said.
Chan also said that he plans to further cultivate financial talent in both Taiwan and Hong Kong in preparation for the opening up of China's service markets next year, when there will be the thirst for financial expertise.
"I believe the talent pool in Taiwan will outperform that in Hong Kong," he said.
Citigroup, in addition, yesterday announced that Richard Stanley will take the new role of chief executive officer for China, while Catherine Weir, country corporate officer for Hong Kong and China, will replace Stanley as head of global corporate investment banking for the ASEAN region, according to the bank's written statement.
Last June, Stanley left his job as country officer for China at the same time that Wier was promoted.
HSBC Holdings Plc and other overseas banks are also building businesses in China ahead of the opening of the nation's financial system at the end of next year, looking to tap its 1.3 billion citizens, who have US$1.5 trillion in savings.
``The opportunities in China are very big,'' said Helen Peng, a managing partner at Haiyuan Law Office in Shanghai. ``China has the most customers in the world, so the banks' business plans should make it the highest priority.''
New York-based Citigroup ranked eighth among firms arranging equity sales for Hong Kong and China-based companies last year, according to Bloomberg data, down from fourth in 2003.