Hang Seng Bank

Many happy yuan returns, Hang Seng

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 04 May, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 04 May, 2013, 4:53am

While giving his birthday wishes to Hang Seng Bank for its 80th anniversary, Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah last night urged the lender to further develop yuan business.

The city is vying with rivals such as Paris, London, Tokyo, Sydney and Singapore to become the premier international yuan trading centre.

The Monetary Authority last week lowered the capital reserves for bankers doing yuan business to encourage them to offer more yuan loans and products.

Last night, the financial chief called on Hang Seng to do more.

Hang Seng has been striving to expand yuan business in support of Hong Kong's strategic position as a leading offshore yuan centre

"Hang Seng has been striving to expand yuan business in support of Hong Kong's strategic position as a leading offshore yuan centre," Tsang said last night at the bank's 80th anniversary reception in Wan Chai attended by 2,000 guests.

He said Hang Seng was the lead arranger of the first yuan-denominated syndicated loan in the city.

The yuan is not yet fully convertible but since 2009 Beijing has allowed the currency to be used for some trade and investment.

"The policies of the mainland have promoted onshore and offshore yuan capital flow. The use of the yuan has been further expanded to cross-border trades and investment, leading to greater demand for different yuan services," Tsang said.

"Ample business opportunities have been brought to Hong Kong since the opening up of the mainland market."

Hang Seng Bank, which started business on March 3, 1933, in an 800 sq ft office in Sheung Wan with 11 employees, is one of the top 50 listed banks in the world and the 18th largest in Asia by market capitalisation. It has about 10,000 staff serving more than three million customers. It has 220 branches in Hong Kong and 46 on the mainland.

Louis Tse Ming-kwong, director of VC Brokerage, said the bank had a strong position in Hong Kong.

"However, the city is very competitive and profit margin here is thin. The future growth story for Hang Seng Bank will depend on its future expansion in yuan business and the mainland market such as Qianhai," Tse said.

Qianhai, in western Shenzhen, is a testing ground for further convertibility of the yuan.

Hang Seng chairman Raymond Chien Kuo-fung said: "Hang Seng is committed to playing a role in the further development of the economies of both Hong Kong and mainland China." He said the bank would "capture the increasing business opportunities arising from closer cross-border economic integration and live up to our name as the ever-growing bank".