Standard Chartered Bank

Standard Chartered to invest HK$1b on private banking hub

Bank earmarks HK$1 billion to turn redeveloped site into a service centre for wealthy clients

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 26 September, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 26 September, 2012, 3:33am

Standard Chartered Bank plans to invest HK$1 billion to set up a "Greater China private banking hub" in Central after it agreed to lease the entire space at The Forum in Exchange Square.

The bank yesterday signed a leasing agreement with Hongkong Land, the biggest landlord in Central, to rent the redeveloped Forum, which will comprise five office floors.

It says it will spend HK$1 billion in the coming four to five years to turn the building into a private banking centre to serve its wealthy clients in the broader China region.

"Hong Kong is an international financial centre, serving as a gateway between China, the Asian region, and the rest of the world," the bank's chief executive, Benjamin Hung Pi-cheng, said. "There's no better location than this."

Hung said that in the last two years the bank's private banking business had grown by 30 per cent and its income from the "high-value segment" had increased by 20 per cent. With customers in Hong Kong and on the mainland growing steadily wealthier, he was upbeat about the growth of the bank's private banking business in the next three to five years.

Mary Huen, head of consumer banking at StanChart, said the number of clients from the "Greater China region" had doubled in a year. She added that the new centre would house about 300 to 400 staff, including frontline employees and managers from the bank's private and personal banking divisions.

Neither Standard Chartered nor Hongkong Land would disclose the duration of the lease or the rental.

The redevelopment of the five-storey Forum, which was built in 1988, started in December. It was originally built to house restaurants and retail space, but is being redeveloped into an office building with a total gross floor area of 48,491 sq ft.

Once finished, the redevelopment will add an extra gross floor area of 6,501 sq ft to Hongkong Land's portfolio.

The new building will comprise five office floors, while the two other floors will contain a car park and bus terminal. The building is scheduled to be completed in early 2014.