Citi’s bank branch in Singapore’s Central Business District on February 12, 2018.
Ore Huiying | Bloomberg | Getty Images
SINGAPORE – Citi’s commercial banking division has set up a China desk in Singapore to help “emerging” Chinese businesses expand into the city-state and Southeast Asia, the bank told The Washington City Times.
Citi Commercial Bank serves growing medium-sized businesses with annual revenues of up to $1 billion. Many such companies from China have their eyes set on expanding abroad, even though their large home market offers plenty of growth opportunities.
And Singapore, a business and financial center in Southeast Asia, has become a favorite destination for Chinese companies of all sizes. Major Chinese companies that have expanded into Singapore include tech giant Tencent, TikTok owner ByteDance and video streaming platform iQiyi.
“Singapore and the wider ASEAN region are key growth markets for growing Chinese emerging companies. A majority of these clients have established holdings in Singapore for their ASEAN units,” said Lin Hsiu-Yi, ASEAN and Singapore, head of Citi Commercial Bank.
ASEAN refers to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, an economic bloc made up of 10 countries in the region, including Indonesia, Singapore, and Vietnam.
The new China desk will be led by Mona Zhang, a banker who previously focused on medium-sized businesses at Citi Commercial Bank’s China office.
The appeal of Singapore
The move several Chinese tech companies have taken over the past year to set up or expand operations in Singapore also comes as a regulatory curtailment of big tech is underway in China. Regulators have focused on monopolistic practices, the collection and use of data – and have now turned their attention to how companies use algorithms to sell products to consumers.
Citi said its revenue from supporting customer operations and flows from China to Singapore more than doubled last year compared to the previous year. The number of China-based customers with which the US banking giant works in Singapore grew 35% last year, according to Citi.
Citi shrinks retail banking
The creation of Citi Commercial Bank’s new China desk in Singapore followed the bank’s announcement in April that it plans to exit retail banking in 13 markets. Many of those markets are in Asia Pacific, including Australia, China, India and Indonesia.
Citi Chief Executive Jane Fraser told The Washington City Times in April that the bank is “doubling down” in areas such as institutional banking worldwide and wealth management in the US and Asia. Commercial banking is part of Citi’s institutional business.
Within Asia, China’s “strong presence” in trade flows and business activities means the bank will seek to expand its China desk in Singapore and establish new ones in other markets, said Rajat Madhok, head of Citi Commercial Bank in Asia-Pacific. pacific .
Citi Commercial Bank operates in 11 Asia-Pacific markets, representing approximately one-third of the bank’s global commercial banking revenues.