Tue, Dec 14, 2010 - Page 11 News List

Citigroup aiming to double Hong Kong client base


Citigroup Inc aims to double the number of clients at its consumer banking unit in Hong Kong as it challenges HSBC Holdings PLC and Standard Chartered PLC by adding branches, cash machines and online services.

The New York-based bank is targeting 2 million consumer--banking customers in the territory in three to five years, up from 1 million now, Citigroup’s head of consumer banking for the Asia-Pacific region Jonathan Larsen said in an interview on Thursday.

Citigroup stepped up expansion in the territory of 7 million -people this year, almost doubling its number of branches to 43 and adding more than 60 automated teller machines. The company is signing up more than 10,000 new retail banking customers a month in Hong Kong, a fivefold increase from the pace at the start of the year, according to spokesman James Griffiths.

HSBC, based in London and founded in Hong Kong in 1865, is the largest bank in the territory with around 100 branches and more than 4 million clients at its personal financial services unit. -Standard Chartered, the British bank that gets most of its profit from Asia, has about 80 branches and operates more than 200 ATMs.

Citigroup’s consumer banking unit oversees retail banking, wealth management for individuals with up to US$10 million of assets, credit cards and small and medium-sized businesses. HSBC includes retail banking, credit cards, insurance, pension savings and investments in its personal financial services operations.

Hong Kong, where the economy grew 6.8 percent in the third quarter, is part of Citigroup’s push to expand in Asia. The US bank plans to boost its branch network in the region to more than 1,000 in the next three to four years from 710 now, Larsen said. Citigroup also aims to triple its number of outlets in China to about 100 within three years.

Standard Chartered said last week that intensifying competition among banks is driving staff costs higher, predicting expenses will rise faster than revenue this year.

In Hong Kong, Citigroup is chipping away at HSBC’s dominant position by expanding the range of outlets where customers can access banking services. The bank said in October it agreed to install ATMs in 7-Eleven stores across the territory.

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