HSBC Holdings has launched its private banking business on the mainland, competing against Citigroup and Standard Chartered Bank in tapping the money of high-net-worth individuals. Europe's biggest bank yesterday said it would target mainlanders with personal wealth of more than US$10 million who are willing to deposit a minimum of US$1 million with the bank. HSBC received approval from the China Banking Regulatory Commission to offer private banking in Beijing, Guangzhou and Shanghai, the company said in a statement. HSBC Bank (China) chief executive Richard Yorke told a media conference yesterday that the bank aimed to grow the mainland business as quickly as possible. The mainland unit turned a pre-tax profit of US$165 million last year, up 28.7 per cent from a year earlier. The group's total pre-tax profit from the mainland, including gains from strategic investments, hit US$1 billion last year, Mr Yorke said. HSBC owns nearly 20 per cent of Bank of Communications, has shares in Ping An Insurance, and holds a stake in Bank of Shanghai. It is following the footsteps of Citi and Standard Chartered in tapping the wealth of mainlanders. 'Through our Premier Banking service, we have seen the high value that customers in China place on personalised services and relationship banking,' Mr Yorke said. HSBC estimated the number of high-net-worth individuals in the country would hit 16 million by 2011, with total assets likely to top US$6.2 trillion by then. A survey by Capgemini and Merrill Lynch shows at least 345,000 mainlanders had a net worth of more than US$1 million in 2006. The bank wanted to double the number of managers offering private banking services to mainland clients to 18 by year-end, said Yvonne Hsin, deputy chief executive of HSBC private banking Asia. HSBC has 66 outlets in 14 mainland cities, up from 35 a year ago. Its deposit growth on the mainland hit 55.7 per cent last year while loans expanded 31.1 per cent. The bank began offering yuan services on April 23 last year after it was incorporated on the mainland. It employs 4,900 people in that market, up 53 per cent from a year ago. Mr Yorke said HSBC had also received a licence to open a branch in Zhengzhou, the capital of Henan province.