KGI Group, the investment bank controlled by Taiwan's influential Koo family, expects to complete its present regional expansion by acquiring Singapore-based Sassoon Group. Sassoon will be merged with KGI through a share swap and become a unit called KGI Sassoon. After completion, Sassoon's existing shareholders, which include the Kuwait Investment Authority, will hold 12 per cent of the Taiwan-based company. 'The group's aggregated equity will then increase to US$870 million from US$770 million,' KGI chief operating officer Angelo Koo Jun-ynn said. Sassoon chief executive George Teo Eng-kim said the firm had about 40,000 clients through its operations in Singapore, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Tokyo and London. 'We will be able to benefit from KGI Group's strength in capital, risk management and product development expertise,' Mr Teo said. The deal presents the latest move in KGI's Asia expansion, following acquisition of 51 per cent of Korea-based brokerage Cho Hung Securities, now KGI Securities Korea, for US$68 million early this year. It would take the number of KGI's clients to more than 390,000, Mr Koo said. He expected this could reach one million in three years. The group would launch a marketing campaign in the region to achieve the goal. Part of the campaign would be a 'zero-brokerage' offer - the tactic KGI had used in Hong Kong between May and June for bolstering its Internet client base. 'We are launching a [zero-commission] campaign in Taiwan this week,' Mr Koo said. The scheme would be similar to the one in Hong Kong and was expected to last for three months. The group was addressing the concerns raised by Taiwan's regulatory body regarding unfair competition, Mr Koo added. Hong Kong and Taiwan are the only exchanges of the world's 15 main stock markets that still have a minimum commission rate. Mr Koo said that the group planned to consolidate its various regional Web sites into a single trading platform by the fourth quarter, in order to enable clients to enjoy cross-border trading. The first step of the consolidation would be seen in Taiwan, where KGI clients would be given access to trade Hong Kong stocks in the coming weeks. KGI now has operations in Taiwan, Hong Kong, Thailand, the Philippines and South Korea.