PH a key area for growth in Asia - HSBC

By Ted P. Torres, The Philippine Star

Posted at May 06 2012 10:36 AM | Updated as of May 07 2012 01:17 AM

MANILA, Philippines - Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corp. (HSBC) said it still considers the Philippines as central to its growth strategies in Asia, outside of major players such as mainland China and India.

HSBC co-head of global markets, Spencer Lake said that from a financial markets perspective, the Philippines remain a key area the region.

“There is a lot wealth that the bank can manage, and the Philippines growth trajectory continues to move upwards,” he said.

In fact, the investment banker said it will not be long before the Philippines gets its much-awaited upgrade to investment grade by the international rating agencies.

“It is not going to be too long before it gets its upgrade,” he stressed.

HSBC managing director, treasurer and head of global markets Jose Arnulfo A. Veloso added that the markets are already treating the country as such.

“The markets have already treating the Philippines in that direction,” Veloso said

Senior officials of global banks are currently in the Philippines to attend the annual meeting of the Asian Development Bank (ADB).

Aside from expanding its already extensive commercial and retail banking operations in the Philippines, HSBC seeks to be the leading bank in country in the renminbi (yuan) market.

At present, it is offering deposit accounts for the yuan, and slowly expanding into trade financing using the Chinese currency as base currency.

Veloso said that as the market gets used to the idea, the renminbi can ultimately replace the US dollar as base foreign or trade currency.

HSBC, along with leading global financial institutions based in London, are already moving aggressively in that direction. The developed nations are still in the long road to recovery while Asia has taken over the reigns of leading the global economy.

Lake pointed out that Europe’s financial markets in general are still in the process of saving its economies and restructuring its debts. The US economy still has to recover although its financial markets are aggressively moving into the Asian market.

HSBC in the Philippines is strengthening and expanding its global banking business as well as its commercial banking activities. Private banking remains among its pillars while it expands its retail and asset management businesses.

Recently, the global bank sold some of its banking and non-banking businesses in Europe and the Americas to focus on the Asian and Middle East markets.

Likewise, it has been scaling down on some of its Asian operations such as Pakistan and New Zealand.

On the other hand, it increased its focus on six key markets of Australia, mainland China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore.