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HSBC mainland operation to happen 'soon'
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HSBC is poised to open its private banking branch in Shanghai within weeks as the bank rides on the wealth creation on the Chinese mainland.

The bank is now preparing for the official launch of the business on the Chinese mainland.

HSBC China spokeswoman said the bank will announce the issue soon, declining to give more details.

HSBC has already set up a private banking representative office in Shanghai, which is for liaison.

The bank soft-launched its first private banking branch last month in Guangzhou, Guangdong Province, and it has gained regulatory approval to open a private banking branch in Beijing, South China Morning Post reported.

HSBC's private banking division's pre-tax profit rose 24 percent last year to US$1.5 billion, contributing to 6.2 percent of the group's total.

HSBC follows rivals such as Citi and Standard Chartered Bank which have already kicked off their businesses on the mainland.

Bank of East Asia plans to open its private banking business in Shanghai and Beijing in the first half of this year to take a bite of millionaires' wealth management market.

Private banking is on the top of pyramid for banking services, which requires at least US$1 million in assets. In the US, the service's average profit sits at 35 percent with a yearly growth of about 12 percent to 15 percent.

Chinese super affluent are growing with a higher demand of financial planning need. Spreading wealth amid a global economy also pushes them to seek bankers with global experience in helping them seek higher returns.

The Chinese mainland has 345,000 millionaires who enjoyed a net worth of at least US$1 million in 2006, up from 320,000 super rich people in 2005, said a report by Capgemini SA and Merrill Lynch & Co.

(Shanghai Daily March 24, 2008)

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