Insight & Analysis

Press release: Citi Commercial Bank sets up China desk in Singapore

Published: Sep 2021

6th September 2021 – Citi Commercial Bank (CCB) Asia Pacific has set up a China desk in Singapore, facilitating access to the city state and wider ASEAN region for emerging corporates from China. The new China desk in Singapore adds to CCB’s expanding network of six Asia desks in the region as the business closely supports clients’ banking needs across intra-Asia growth corridors.

Newspaper press release

Staffed by specialists who are well-versed in specific markets, CCB’s Asia desks provide clients with a full suite of banking solutions, alongside an understanding of the local operating and regulatory environment, as they tap into opportunities outside of their home markets. These desks are helmed by experienced bankers who understand the nuances of different cultures and languages, as well as etiquette, to better serve clients as they invest to grow. This reduces complexity and helps to speed up time-to-market when clients enter new geographies.

Mona Zhang, previously Parent Account Manager for Mid Corporates in CCB China’s office, is leading the new China desk in Singapore. Mona has a wealth of knowledge and experience in understanding the business landscape in China and serving the needs of Chinese corporates. Under Mona’s leadership, CCB will forge stronger partnerships with China-based clients and support their expansion plans into Singapore and as well as the rest of ASEAN.

The establishment of CCB’s latest China desk underlines the growth that the business continues to see across the China to Singapore as well as China to ASEAN corridors. Despite low interest rates and challenges presented by COVID-19, in 2020, CCB more than doubled revenue in the China to Singapore corridor, supported by 35% growth in new client acquisition. Momentum in new client acquisition also resulted in a doubling of revenue in the China to ASEAN corridor last year.

“Singapore and the broader ASEAN region are key markets for growth for expanding Chinese emerging corporates. A majority of these clients set up holding companies in Singapore for their ASEAN units, with the market serving as a treasury and funding hub. Complemented by Citi’s regional network, the new Singapore-based China desk will enable us to better and more effectively partner with our clients as we support their growth aspirations. The desk will provide specialized support and leverage our capabilities as a full-service bank, connecting clients to Citi’s broader Institutional Clients Group to offer services across banking, FX, cash management, capital markets financing and advisory,” said Lin Hsiu-Yi, Citi Commercial Bank ASEAN and Singapore Head.

Other desks in the region include a Korea desk in China, Hong Kong, India and Vietnam; a Greater China desk in Hong Kong; and a China desk in India, the majority of which have recorded positive growth in 2020.

CCB’s Korea desk in Hong Kong saw a doubling of revenue in 2020 while the China desk in India recorded a 50% increase in earnings in the same period. More recently, the Vietnam-based Korea desk was elevated to an ASEAN desk, supporting Korean clients who are eager to explore markets in the broader ASEAN region. These desks further complement Citi’s Corporate Banking desks that serve larger companies in the region.

“Recognizing the growth in intra-Asia corridors, including ASEAN, and the strong presence that China is and will continue to play in the movement of trade flows and client activity, we will continue to expand our Asia desks into new corridors and hire across these desks to support growing client demand. This will include setting up China desks in additional markets and expanding our Singapore-based China desk team,” said Rajat Madhok, Citi Commercial Bank Asia Pacific Head. “Our network of Asia desks is also key to our talent development priorities, with each desk being staffed by CCB bankers who have embraced mobility and moved away from their home markets to take on the desk role in a new country.”

While not part of CCB’s formal desk construct, the business also has in place dedicated teams to support flows to ASEAN from Singapore, and from India to Singapore. This has enabled better partnership with clients who recognize the value in Citi’s global network and connectivity.

Citi Commercial Bank serves mid-sized and emerging corporates with revenues of up to US$1 billion annually. The business operates across 11 markets in Asia Pacific, including Greater China, ASEAN, India, Korea and Australia, and contributes around a third of the bank’s global commercial banking revenues. With dedicated industry teams focused on clients in Digital, Consumer Products, Healthcare, Technology Hardware, Consumer, Services and Industries, CCB helps clients address the challenges of rapid growth and international expansion so that they can scale faster and grow larger.

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