US financial services firm Charles Schwab Corp re-established its presence in the territory yesterday with the launch of Charles Schwab, Hong Kong. The company, which has helped to pioneer on-line trading, said it hoped to expand its Internet-based investment business around the region. Timothy McCarthy, executive vice-president of Charles Schwab Corp, said: 'Asia is growing. Hong Kong is growing. This is a major market and we wanted a presence here.' The on-line services enable investors to trade in US stocks, bonds and options and offshore funds. The Internet accounts for about 4 per cent of retail trading in the US. 'Our customers now have the ability to access critical information and then execute trades, transfers and settlements,' Mr McCarthy said. Gloria Lau, managing director of Schwab International, said that 11 mutual funds companies had signed up to distribute their products through the Hong Kong office and the World-Wide Web site. Negotiations were still under way with Jardine Fleming and Goldman Sachs, she said. Schwab declined to give information on the charges paid by the funds companies for the service. The company, which has 750,000 Internet customers, said customer fees for cyber-trades were discounted by 20 per cent. Executives stressed that Web-based services were se cure. Despite constant attention from computer hackers - who launched an average of several thousand attempts to penetrate the Schwab system each day - no customer information had yet been compromised. A Schwab official said the firm had maintained a branch in Hong Kong between 1982 and 1989.