By Wang Ke
China.org.cn correspondent in London
Standard Chartered Bank has not had to seek financial assistance from the British government, thanks to its strong capital base. Watch the interview.
Sir Thomas Harris, vice president of Standard Chartered Capital Markets Ltd, told China.org.cn: "We don't need assistance from the British government. It's not something we are currently considering."
In a move to ease the global credit crisis, the British government pumped more than £37bn (US$64.5 billion) into four of the UK's largest banks on Monday in a broad-based recapitalization that could see the UK government take controlling stakes in the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) and Halifax Bank of Scotland (HBOS). RBS, HBOS, Lloyds TSB and Barclays had already hammered out details of their participation in the recapitalization scheme before markets reopened today.
Sir Thomas said: "We did not ask for government help this time, but we are leaving the door open."
Britain decided to launch a £400bn (US$698 billion) plan that will see the part nationalization of some of its biggest banks in a dramatic effort to restore confidence among financial institutions and avert a severe economic downturn. The three-pronged plan, in which the British state will invest up to £50bn in the country's banks, is the latest in a series of increasingly far-reaching measures by governments in the US and Europe to end the year-long global credit crisis.
UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown described the scheme as a "far more comprehensive program than people had expected." And he acknowledged there had been "a failure of responsibility on the part of the banking system".
In order to avoid the global credit crisis spilling over into China, Beijing has stepped up its monitoring of international financial institutions in the country. China's securities regulator has ordered all joint venture fund management firms to report on the health and financial position of their foreign partners and explain how the global turmoil could affect operations in China.
Sir Thomas told China.org.cn: "This is an understandable and normal action under the current extraordinary circumstances. It is the government's responsibility to do this in order to protect the interests of Chinese investors and the stability of the domestic market."
Standard Chartered Bank (China) Limited was named Best Foreign Retail Bank in China after it successfully launched a private banking business in Shanghai and Beijing last year.
Sir Thomas said: "We not only provide specialized financial products and services for our private banking customers, more importantly, we strive to provide them with a personalized, value-added service."
China recently further opened up its banking market to overseas competition and the first batch of foreign banks was locally incorporated in 2007.
"The local market has been revitalized, resulting in better and more convenient service to customers. With our financial expertise and global network, Standard Chartered China is committed to supporting the development of the local financial market," he said.
"The achievements of our China consumer banking business are due to our leading position in product innovation, which enabled us to transform ourselves into a fully-fledged retail bank in less than six months after receiving an RMB license. We introduced several firsts into the market place, including unsecured personal loans, private banking and business installment loans to small and medium enterprises."
He told China.org.cn: "2008 is the 150th anniversary of our first venture in China. We have a long history here, and we will continue to focus on improving our service by offering tailored, value-added financial products to our customers."
Standard Chartered performed strongly in China last year. Operating profit before tax increased 72 percent to US$184 million in 2007, and income increased 73 percent to US$498 million. It has more than doubled the number of permanent staff from 2,100 to over 4,300 and the local branch network has grown from 21 to 38.
The Bank launched over 100 new products for its Consumer Banking and Wholesale Banking customers and won numerous awards including the "2007 China Excellent Banking Service Award" granted by Hexun website, the "2007 China's Best Corporate Citizenship Award" presented by 21st Century Business Herald, and the "2007 Best Corporate banking Value-Added Financial Services Award" awarded by China CFO World.
(China.org.cn October 14, 2008)