Bank to celebrate 30 years in HK

THE Swiss Bank celebrates its 30th anniversary in Hong Kong next year. The territory was one of the bank's first bases in Asia, according to Rudolf Heer, managing director of the Swiss Bank's Hong Kong branch.

And it has notched up impressive growth in the Asia-Pacific region in the past three years.

''For every year for the past three years our business has grown by between 20 and 25 per cent,'' Mr Heer said.

The region is one of the most important emerging market's on the bank's map.

Within the group, it has been accorded the same priority as markets in North America and Europe, outside of Switzerland.

''Basically, we have put more emphasis on logistics, and developing the human resources side, to further support our marketing efforts in the region,'' Mr Heer said.

''If we look at business development in Asia compared with the Latin American and Middle East markets, this region has certainly proved to be the best growing one,'' he said.

''This has been in line with the economic growth rate of the countries in the Asia-Pacific region - which is substantially higher than what you find in other markets.'' In the region, the Swiss Bank has developed new concepts to penetrate and develop the currency and equity-related derivatives market, according to Mr Heer.

''The development of this derivatives business is a prime priority for our organisation in Asia,'' he said.

''Equally important is the further development of the capital market side.

''We are one of the leading international banks with regard to underwriting China-related business.'' Another priority business segment for the Swiss Bank is corporate finance.

One of its goals is to become a fully integrated investment and merchant bank.

The bank aims to develop corporate finance, capital markets and treasury businesses and introduce derivatives and other modern financial instruments.

''On the other hand, an absolute top priority for the bank is to further develop private banking and portfolio management,'' Mr Heer said.

''On the institutional and private client sides, the clear objective of the bank is to enlarge these operations as we see great potential here.

''And the Swiss Bank, for historical reasons, has always been active in these sectors.

''The reason why we have set these objectives is because the Asian market is relationship-driven,'' he said.

The Swiss Bank has four fully operative units in the Asia-Pacific region: Hong Kong, Singapore, Tokyo and Sydney. It has a staff of more than 1,200 in these offices.

In Hong Kong, its business is split into two units: the banking operation and its securities arm, SBCI Finance Asia, a wholly owned subsidiary.

The Hong Kong staff is about 320.

The bank has also developed ties with Southeast Asian countries such as Singapore, Malaysia Indonesia and Thailand.

It opened a representative office in Beijing in 1989 and plans to open a representative office in Shanghai soon.

The bank is also looking at the emerging Vietnamese market.

''We have done feasibility studies and are positive about the prospects,'' Mr Heer said.

''It is probably one of the important emerging markets of the future.''