LUXEMBOURG-BASED bank Clearstream, which specialises in international securities clearing and fund custody, will aggressively expand in Asia this year to cope with the strong growth in the region. Clearstream, the international central securities depository in the Deutsche Borse Group, has offices in Luxembourg, Frankfurt, New York, London and Dubai, and is set to add one each in Singapore and Tokyo by the end of the year. Together with an existing office in Hong Kong, half of the bank's regional offices will be in Asia. 'This reflects the importance of the region that we have four offices in Asia-Pacific,' said Philippe Metoudi, who has headed Clearstream in Asia and the Middle East since 1992. 'Asia is clearly one of the world's engines of growth. We are delighted to see the exceptional growth in activity throughout the region, particularly in the area of collateral management services from existing clients and from new customers. We need people to support our business, so we have decided to open an office in Singapore to cope with our largest growing market,' he said. Mr Metoudi said Singapore, which had a smaller market than Hong Kong 15 years ago, had come up with lots of initiatives, especially in funds and foreign exchange, and had caught up to a comparable size in recent years. After more than a decade of sluggish economic growth, Tokyo was on the rise again and ripe for cultivating new customers. Last year Clearstream signed an agreement with each of the two Chinese depositories; Chinaclear, which services the Shanghai and Shenzhen stock exchanges, and the China Government Securities Depository Trust and Clearing, which covers bonds. Under the two agreements, Clearstream will share expertise in clearing, settlement and custody operations with Beijing. The two parties will also explore the possibility of an integrated system to deliver a wider range of services to the local market. The bank reported a 39 per cent growth in assets under custody last year in Asia. A total volume of US$1 trillion was settled last year, representing about 450,000 securities instructions in the region. As the second-largest depository in Europe after Euroclear Bank, Clearstream handles an average of 500,000 transaction settlements a day for more than 2,500 customers globally. As of last month it had a total asset value of Euro9.1 trillion ($88.94 trillion) under custody, up 12 per cent from the same period last year.