Emirate Banking International said it would continue to raise its Hong Kong business profile by expanding selectively despite the difficulties faced by the region. Alistair Macleod, general manager and country manager for the Hong Kong branch, said the United Arab Emirates-based banking group's exposure to Asia, barring Hong Kong and the mainland, was negligible. He said the bank had shelved expansion plans in Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand due to the regional crisis. Last year, the bank participated in 16 big syndicated loans in Hong Kong. The borrowers were listed companies including Fountain Set Holdings, Gilbert Holdings, Kingboard Chemical and Sinocan Holdings. Mr Macleod said the bank this year would continue to aggressively explore syndicated financing opportunities for medium-size listed companies and to cross-sell trade finance services. The bank is very active in 'cross-border forfaiting' in the mainland - investing in credits issued by mainland entities, but guaranteed by financial institutions there. Emirate Banking has operated as a restricted licence bank since 1981.