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“At last some good news on the jobs front  in Ireland “
Citigroup to Double Hong Kong Consumer Bank Client Base, Challenging HSBC
By Stephanie Tong – Dec 12, 2010 4:01 PM GMT

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 targets two million consumer- banking customers in the city in three to five years, up from a million now, Jonathan Larsen, Citigroup’s head of consumer banking for the Asia-Pacific region, said in a Dec. 9 interview.

“Hong Kong is an attractive market,” Larsen said. “We think that we deserve a much larger slice of that market and we think we can achieve that.”

Citigroup stepped up expansion in the city 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 city 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 $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.

Asian Plans

Hong Kong, where the economy grew 6.8 percent in the third quarter, is part of Citigroup’s push to expand in Asia. The U.S. 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 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 city.

“We are not going to stop,” said Larsen. “We will keep adding ATM locations. We are going to keep finding partners that can help us to add value. We are going to keep making sure that we are a very visible player.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Stephanie Tong in Hong Kong at stong17@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Philip Lagerkranser at lagerkranser@bloomberg.net

Dec 9 (Reuters) – U.S. financial services group Citigroup (C.N) will hire 250 people in Ireland next year in operations, funds, technology and product development, the company said on Thursday.Citigroup already employs more than 2,200 workers in Dublin and Waterford, around 100 miles south of the capital, and has hired 300 people in the past 12 months.

The jobs announcement was a rare piece of good news for Ireland which has been rocked by a financial crisis that has seen unemployment soar, emigration return and its application for an 85 billion euros ($113 billion) bailout from the IMF and European Union last month. (Reporting by Carmel Crimmins; Editing by Dan Lalor)

Comment :

I have for the past year thought that this bank is one of the few I would invest in now more so as they are investing in Ireland again!

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