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Setting high standards at the Standard (4)

(China Daily)

09:22, October 20, 2011

The two sides are working on several high-end projects under the so-called China-Africa corridor program, and a number of deals in equity capital markets, debt capital markets and third party syndications. "The pipeline looks good," said Tsang.

Standard Chartered PLC's income in the mainland grew year-on-year by 16 percent to $404 million in the first half of 2011. Including Bohai Bank, in which it has a 20 percent stake, profits in the mainland increased by 76 percent to $137 million during the same period.

"However, this significantly understates the impact of China on the group as a whole. Quite apart from Hong Kong, where the business is increasingly intertwined with the mainland, China generates income across our network," said Peter Sands, group chief executive of Standard Chartered PLC.

He said China's action to moderate the pace of economic growth and squeeze inflation is having some limited effect on the business growth momentum, and the lender will continue to invest and grow rapidly in the country.

Currently the lender has 19 branches, 51 sub-branches and 1 village bank in China, and employs more than 5,500 staff.

It had opened nine branches or sub-branches this year on the mainland as of Aug 3, taking the total to 71. The bank opened a new branch in Xi'an, capital of Shaanxi province, on Aug 30, a key step for SCB's expansion in Western China.

"As for our network on the mainland, we ranked third among foreign players. The focus of individual institutions usually varies. For us, we put more emphasis on balanced development," said Tsang, adding that SCB had not invested less than other players, but its investments mainly went to personnel, especially professional staff who displayed an ability to find their way through various uncertainties in the market.

To Tsang, SCB is like a strong, vibrant, well-experienced and reliable marathon runner who shows great patience when entering a new race (meaning an emerging market).

"Standard Chartered has been developing in China for 152 years, but it was only in 2005 that we started to learn how to become a Chinese bank. We wish to be a part of China. The only difference is that we brought knowledge and experience from abroad."

The bank is researching the possibility of setting up a joint venture with a Chinese securities player, as some foreign banks have already done, and remains confident about its retail banking business, although foreign banks only hold a market share of around 1.8 percent, said Tsang.

Despite the rising uncertainties in the market, such as white-hot inflation, economic slowdown and a higher reserve requirement, Tsang said she is confident about China's economic prospects, the huge business opportunities lying ahead and SCB's continued commitment to the world economic driver.

"I like challenge. Unimaginable difficulties can often trigger a strong willingness to overcome them."

Tsang was born in Hong Kong and educated in the former British dependent territory and Canada. She holds a bachelor of commerce degree from the University of Alberta, Canada.

Before joining Standard Chartered, she worked in several organizations including Acro Chemical Asia Pacific, Kowloon-Canton Railway and the Hong Kong government.

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