NORMAN Broadbent International (NBI), one of the world's leading executive head-hunting firms, has scored a major coup over its rivals by opening an office in Beijing. ''China struck us as being an obvious place to open an office,'' said NBI chief executive Miles Broadbent in a telephone interview from London. ''With one of the fastest-growing economies in the world, China has become the focal point for multi-national companies and Beijing is where all the decisons are made. ''With all these multi-nationals moving into China they need someone to recruit locally,'' he said. NBI, which was set up 10 years ago by David Norman and Miles Broadbent, has formed a joint partnership with CITIC, the state-owned investment conglomerate. The company has offices in London, New York, Hong Kong, Chicago and Stanford, plus a network of associated operations in 13 countries. NBI's office in China will be located in the CITIC building in Beijing and will officially open on October 11. Ivy Chow, a senior consultant with the Hong Kong office of NBI, will head up the Beijing operation. ''Her role will be to identify business opportunities and liaise with our Hong Kong operation for recruitment,'' Mr Broadbent said. She will be assisted by an adviser and consultant from CITIC. Samuel Wan, managing director of Norman Broadbent Hong Kong, said: ''Our aim is to place the right people for multi-national companies operating in China. ''Ideally multi-nationals want Chinese who have been educated abroad and who have worked for such companies in the past. These people, they feel, can easily fit into the multi-national corporate culture. ''But these people are hard to find. ''So the next best thing is to bring in Chinese from outside from places such as Hong Kong, Canada, the United States, Australia, Britain or Europe. ''Obviously, spoken Mandarin and written Chinese is a must, but, having said that, we have done some work for retail and engineering companies in the past that have wanted only Europeans. It didn't matter whether they spoke Mandarin or not because the companies provided interpreters.'' He said salaries for mid-level executives with multi-nationals varied from company to company. ''A Chinese national, for example, can earn anything from 3,000 to 10,000 yuan a month with a multi-national,'' Mr Wan said. ''In China. that's very good money. ''If you bring in a Westerner or Chinese from outside, you can expect to start him off at a salary of US$500,000 a year, provide accommodation, home leave, schooling and all the other fringe benefits associated with an expatriate package. ''Ideally multi-nationals prefer Chinese nationals, but, having said that, salaries in China are increasing very fast. In Shanghai alone, salaries are increasing by between 30 and 40 per cent a year.''