Citi HK forecasts further growth

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 08 May, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 08 May, 2007, 12:00am

Citi's Hong Kong operations saw revenue rise by double digits in the first four months and it expects growth to continue for the rest of the year, according to Sim Lim, the city's new country officer.

Mr Lim also said the group's restructuring had little impact on Hong Kong, a market in which the bank would increase hiring to facilitate business growth.

Citi, the world's largest lender by market value, is aiming to eliminate 17,300 jobs as part of its plan to save US$4.6 billion over three years. The bank has about 4,600 employees based in Hong Kong.

'By December 2007, we will have more people working in Hong Kong than at the start of the year,' he said.

Citi would also open more branches in Hong Kong, said Atul Malik, the bank's country manager at Hong Kong and Macau.

Mr Lim said the bank's Hong Kong unit could benefit from the robust economy in the mainland, which recorded 11.1 per cent growth in the first quarter. 'Even business as usual, the growth will be very fast.'

He said there was a lot of petrol money flowing into Asia, offering Hong Kong a lot of opportunities because of its link to the mainland.

Mr Lim, who is also the head of markets and banking for Hong Kong and Taiwan, said the bank would partner with the mainland's colleagues to grow business in the country.

Mr Lim took the position after predecessor Chan Tze-ching retired last month.

However, unlike Mr Chan, Mr Lim's main responsibility does not include the mainland as that belongs to another division, especially after Citi incorporated locally earlier this year.

Mr Lim said there would not be any competition between Citi and its 20 per cent-owned Guangdong Development Bank because of the huge size of the mainland market.

Profit contribution from the mainland would grow faster than other areas, given the country's robust expansion, he added.