WHEELOCK NatWest is to rely on its securities and corporate finance sections to break even in two years, according to chief executive David Miller. The young investment bank has since its first year in business concentrated on building up a base mainly by attracting staff from its established competitors. Mr Miller said the company had recruited a strong team but income came under strain with the market in a downward trend last year. The company made its debut in the corporate finance sector through the listing of Pacific Plywood Holdings and the privatisation of Lafe International Holdings. The company, a 50-50 joint venture between Wheelock and Co and NatWest Markets, the corporate and investment banking arm of the NatWest Group, was set up with a paid-up capital of US$100 million. It was said that Warburg had a smaller base for its Asian operation before it was taken over by the Swiss Bank Corp. The joint-venture partners had committed to invest up to US$200 million. Mr Miller said: 'We see our corporate finance and securities business as one unit which is to be our strength also.' Chief executive of corporate finance Meocre Li Kwok-wing said the company's securities and corporate finance teams combined their resources while in other investment banks similar teams were seldom complementary. Mr Li said corporate finance would contribute about 50 per cent to profit. Mr Miller said the joint venture would gain from Wheelock's investment portfolio in China, which was also in a developing stage. He said NatWest probably could catch the next batch of H-share issues of mainland companies. He said NatWest needed an Asian partner now that it was making a comeback three years after it had pulled out its operations from the region. Chief executive of investment management Nigel Wightman said that the company had more than HK$2 billion in management, with emphasis on northern Asia and Hong Kong.