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French bank eyes expansion

FRANCE'S Societe Generale will open 50 new outlets in China in the coming years as part of an expansion in the market despite the global financial crisis, a senior bank official said yesterday in Shanghai.

"The bank will first expand into the affluent coastal areas, and we will also step-by-step expand into other cities (riding) on China's big growth potential," Frederic Blanc, managing director and deputy head of commercial and personal banking at Societe Generale (China) Ltd, told Shanghai Daily yesterday.

Its parent company, which is France's third-biggest bank, has given its string support to its Chinese subsidiary to expand business in China despite the global financial turmoil, Blanc said.

The French bank set up its locally incorporated subsidiary - Societe Generale (China) - in September with a registered capital of 4 billion yuan (US$586 million) in Beijing so that it could provide a full range of yuan services.

In line with the bank's network expansion, it will at least double its number of staff in China. The bank now has about 500 employees in Shanghai, Beijing, Wuhan, Tianjin and Guangzhou. The bank opened an outlet in Guangzhou in Guangdong Province last month and will open a sub-branch in Shanghai's Puxi area today.

The bank is expected to get the approval from the China Banking Regulatory Commission to offer retail yuan services to Chinese residents this year. It will launch new products such as yuan-backed individual mortgages, non-secured credit and more wealth management products once it obtains the yuan license.

The bank expects to launch yuan-backed debit cards in the first quarter of next year and is preparing for its bank card center in Beijing. It has already started negotiations with China UnionPay Co to join its clearing system.


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