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HSBC shows China confidence

HSBC said yesterday it will add another 1,000 jobs and accelerate its network expansion on Chinese mainland this year in a sign of its strong confidence in China's economy despite a global contraction.

It said the number of employees will grow from 5,500 by another 1,000 by the end of 2009 and its branch network will expand from 79 last year to 100 by the end of this year.

"We have great confidence in China's ability to weather the financial crisis and achieve continued economic growth," said Richard Yorke, president and chief executive officer of HSBC Bank (China) Co Ltd, yesterday. "In 2009, we shall continue our investment in both our network and people, and broaden our service range at every opportunity. China is at the center of the HSBC Group's emerging markets strategy."

HSBC China is the British bank's locally incorporated subsidiary on the mainland.

The bank also disclosed yesterday a strong growth on the mainland for 2008. HSBC China's pre-tax profits surged by 85.2 percent to 2.19 billion yuan (US$321 million) in 2008 and operating income jumped 44.5 percent to 5.35 billion yuan.

In 2008, HSBC China increased yuan-denominated lending by 14 percent while its customer deposits grew by 28 percent. The strong deposits growth helped the bank to meet the regulatory 75 percent loan-to-deposit ratio ahead of a regulatory grace period for locally incorporated foreign banks by 2011.

"We believe that this puts us in a very healthy position, especially amid the ongoing global financial crisis," Yorke said.

The World Bank and International Monetary Fund both predicted the global economy will shrink this year, the first slide into negative territory since the World War II. China is the only major economy hasn't been embroiled into the "Great Recession," as described by the IMF.

The central government is targeting an economic growth of 8 percent this year.


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