THE Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce celebrates its 25th anniversary in Hongkong this year. CIBC's predecessor, Canadian Bank of Commerce, opened for business in 1867 and, despite modest beginnings as a regional bank, it has grown substantially. CIBC set up its first representative office in Hongkong in 1968, which was followed with a branch office in 1978. Since then, CIBC has expanded throughout Asia to Singapore, Taiwan, Japan and China, providing a full range of services, including corporate lending, trade financing, exclusive private banking and treasury products. In addition, the CEF group, CIBC's equal joint venture with Li Ka-shing's Cheung Kong (Holdings), provides investment and merchant banking services. ''Asia will be the area of high growth for the rest of the decade and CIBC is proud to have established itself as the bank with the largest scope of Canadian presence in Hongkong,'' said William Spence, CIBC's executive vice-president, Asia. With its level of activity in Hongkong doubling over the past five years, CIBC owed its successful integration into the local market to its complete range of services and strong cultural ties between the shores of Hongkong and Canada, Mr Spence said. Not only was CIBC focused on the development of commercial relationships between corporations with cross-border ventures, the bank was in tune with the Hongkong community at a cultural level. Acting as a bridge across the Pacific, CIBC offers assistance with investments, mortgage financing, credit card adjustments, tax plans, asset protection schemes and information on universities to help ease immigrants' transition to life in Canada. Meanwhile, CIBC has more than 40 branches located in such major cities as Toronto and Vancouver with Chinese-speaking staff to welcome new immigrants. CIBC is also directly active within the ever-growing Canadian community in Hongkong. Mr Spence is a governor of the Canadian International School Foundation, which provides education - including second-language instruction in Cantonese - to the increasing number of Canadians in Hongkong. Peter Tulloch, CIBC vice-president of Corporate Bank, Asia, serves as senior vice-president on the Canadian Chamber of Commerce in Hongkong, while other employees volunteer on a variety of committees. Keen on staging cross-cultural events, CIBC contributed to Festival Canada held in Hongkong in 1991, as well as Festival Hongkong '92, which took place in Canada. CIBC also participated in the annual Community Chest charity walkathon in Hongkong, helping to raise $93,000 this year. In addition, many of CIBC's employees in the territory have been educated in Canada, equipping the bank with a strong understanding of the two market places.