Citi eyes 13pc revenue growth in Hong Kong

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 03 July, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 03 July, 2007, 12:00am

Citi, the world's largest lender by market value, aimed to achieve a 13 per cent revenue growth in Hong Kong this year amid the buoyant stock market, according to the bank's new Hong Kong head.

'I'd like the country's business to grow at double the rate of the GDP growth per annum,' said Sim Lim, who replaced Chan Tze-ching as Citi's Hong Kong country officer last month.

'In the first five months, we have already surpassed the growth rate of Hong Kong,' he said, adding that he did not think it would be difficult to achieve the target.

Mr Lim expected Hong Kong's gross domestic product would grow between 6 per cent and 6.5 per cent this year, suggesting Citi's Hong Kong unit is expected to would see a 12 to 13 per cent growth.

Citi's securities investment, wealth management and investment banking businesses have been helped by Hong Kong's rising stock market, with the benchmark Hang Seng Index breaking the 22,000 level for the first time last week and daily turnover exceeding HK$100 billion.

Mr Lim also said Citi had diversified in other areas, ranging from traditional lending business, private banking, corporate and investment banking, retail banking and wealth management to personal financial business.

Mr Lim said Citi planned to add to its 27 branches in Hong Kong this year but would not compete by the number of outlets. Its rivals such as HSBC and Bank of China (Hong Kong) together run more than 500 branches in the city.

'There are ways to contact your clients other than [through branches]. Citi offers telephone banking and internet banking as touch bases for its customers,' he said.

Citi agreed to buy Taiwan-based Bank of Overseas Chinese for US$427.3 million in April. Mr Lim, who is also the head of Taiwan for Citi, said the acquisition could mean 55 more branches, bringing the total to 66 and the addition of more than a million commercial banking customers, particularly from small and medium enterprises.

Mr Lim said Citi also would look at acquisition opportunities to complement organic growth in Hong Kong.