Asian retail banking will come under the spotlight at a two-day conference in Hong Kong next week. Hong Kong Monetary Authority deputy chief executive David Carse will present the first keynote address to about 150 bankers from around the region at the Asian Banker Summit 2000 on October 24 and 25. Mr Carse would outline the rationale behind the HKMA's regulatory framework, said conference organiser Emmanuel Daniel, editor of Asian Banker, and explain how this was 'designed to propel Hong Kong into a regional financial services centre in the new Internet era'. Other keynote speakers include two banking executives who could be engaged in negotiations between DBS Bank of Singapore and Guoco Group. Guoco, the Hong Kong-listed finance subsidiary of Malaysian tycoon Quek Leng Chan's Hong Leong Group, is rumoured to be in talks with DBS to sell its 71.6 per cent stake in Dao Heng Bank. Sharing a stage at the summit will be DBS's Philippe Paillart, senior managing director and head of personal banking; and James Eng, an executive director of Guoco, responsible for the group's financial services' division. Both DBS and Guoco yesterday brushed aside the joint appearance at the conference as mere coincidence. A bank spokesman in Singapore, Chuck Newton, said it was 'highly doubtful' delegates would hear comment from Mr Paillart on the rumoured talks. 'That rumour has been kicking around for some time and our general policy is not to comment yea or nay on rumours,' Mr Newton said. 'This is another one we will not be commenting on, and no one should read any significance whatsoever in the fact that Mr Paillart is appearing on the same platform as someone from the Guoco Group.' Mr Eng echoed these sentiments and declined to make any comment on the rumoured talks with DBS on the group's Dao Heng stake. Mr Daniel, whose magazine is organising the conference, said Mr Paillart would deliver another of the keynote addresses. 'He will recount the journey that the bank has been making to reposition itself from a domestic institution into a world-class player and provide insights into the transformational issues that the bank has experienced in the process,' he said. Successful regional targets of DBS acquisitions have been Kwong On Bank in Hong Kong, and Thai Danu Bank in Thailand, but Standard Chartered outbid it for the consumer banking business of Chase Manhattan in Hong Kong. DBS was said to be a strong contender for new regional business opportunities in the retail sphere, said Mr Daniel. HSBC will be represented at the conference by Eric Tai, director of e-banking, Asia-Pacific. Another keynote speaker is David Kim of Softbank, who will give his view on how non-banks visualise the financial services industry unfolding and how banks can expect to form allies and competitors in the new operating environment. E-banking assessments will also come from Thomas Johnson, president and chief executive of the Bank Administration Institute in the United States. He will present a critical survey of the implications for financial institutions in North America of the expanding online initiatives. Other speakers of note include Warren Dent, senior vice-president of Transpoint, Roy Ramos, managing director of Goldman Sachs Asia Financial Research, and Paul Pester of Virginmoney - a unit of Richard Branson's Virgin Group.