Best Foreign Commercial Bank – China

HSBC

This was easily one of the most difficult awards to decide this year, with all the contenders submitting outstanding presentations and providing us with many, many corporate testimonials, all of which were gratefully received and read at length. These testimonials were often quite thoughtful. A major multinational said of HSBC: “We use HSBC as our major foreign bank in China for a combination of reasons. Their ability to provide Renminbi funding is more reliable, they deliver more flexible and innovative solutions in areas such as cash management, and we find that HSBC people we deal with communicate very well, not just with us, but each other as well.” A major Chinese client told us: “HSBC’s capital strength and service quality is unbeatable in the mainland China market.” HSBC is the biggest foreign bank in China with nine branches and two rep offices in 11 cities, as well as a massive data processing centre in Guangzhou. It employs over 1,000 staff, of whom 90% are local recruits. It is the only foreign bank to have set up renminbi payment alliances in 2000 with all the big four state banks, and this alliance enables HSBC to offer renminbi remittances through their 26,000 branches (and is a major reason for HSBC developing such a burgeoning cash management franchise). It also established bilateral funding lines of Rmb6 billion with Bank of China to enable it to better serve its clients in China. It is the largest arranger of PRC syndicated loans (having arranged deals for Citic, and China Resources among others) and in the project finance field it arranged US dollar funding for the Beijing No10 Water Treatment Plant A, and the Taishin Power Project as well as helping BP to get selected as the foreign partner on the Shenzhen LNG project. It also holds in custody, over half of all the foreign-invested assets in China’s B share equity market. Above all, what distinguishes HSBC from all other global banking groups operating in China is its history. Given that it was established in 1865 in China, there is never any mistaking that China is HSBC’s number one strategic priority. Indeed, HSBC boss John Bond has been in Mainland China more in the past two years than any of his counterparts. The HSBC Group has even held a board meeting in Mainland China as a symbolic show of its commitment.

 

Best Foreign Commercial Bank – Hong Kong

Citibank

Citibank’s financials in Hong Kong speak for themselves. In what was widely regarded as a very tough year, Citibank saw 17% growth in its revenues, and outstanding ROE of 51%. Its corporate bank saw profit growth of 53% and did so by particularly expanding its reach into the small and medium-sized enterprises sector. Thus while its total number of corporate customers grew 42%, its SME customer base grew by almost 90%. Need we say more.

 

Best Foreign Commercial Bank – India

HSBC

HSBC sees India as one of its core strategic markets globally. And it shows. Last year, the bank grew its assets in India by 37% and its attributable profit by 126%. It acquired Deutsche Bank’s retail banking business in India gaining 4,111 accounts in five cities with aggregate deposits of Rs560 million. It also acquired a home loan portfolio from Weizmann Homes Limited of Rs320 million and launched co-branded credit card with Punjab National Bank that was an outstanding success. It has the largest dealing room in India and handles 7% of India’s annual trade of $86 billion, and has over 1,000 cash management mandates in India.  It is the largest custody provider to foreign institutional investors, with a 50% market share. The bank has active relationships with over 500 multinationals and 250 major local corporates. It has a dominant local presence with 28 branches, and 100 ATMs in 12 cities. Its global processing centre in Hyderabad, which in May expanded to house 1,200 staff, underlines its commitment to India. HSBC’s presentation included 10 tesimonials for all the relevant product areas, a reflection of the confidence it has in its clients' satisfaction.

 

Best Foreign Commercial Bank – Indonesia

HSBC

HSBC’s Indonesian business has been growing rapidly (after all, HSBC has historically always been at its best helping clients in countries that have gone through crisis). Its branch network has increased in the past year from seven to 12 and its staff upped by 25% to 2,000 to support business growth. Its net income was up 76% and its ROE was among the highest for any of its operations in Asia. Providing over 15 client testimonials, its arguments were all the more persuasive. As one Indonesian client commented: “HSBC’s understanding of our business and its handling of transactions are second to none. These qualities are what make HSBC stand well above the rest.” Another commented: “HSBC has stood by us at all times, in good times as well as difficult times. They are flexible, cooperative and their response is very fast.” With massive growth in its cash management mandates, and a 40% share of foreign invested assets under custody, HSBC aims to continue its growth in Indonesia in the coming year and have the biggest network among foreign banks.

 

Best Foreign Commercial Bank – Japan

Citibank

Citibank is a truly embedded bank in Japan, with over two million customers, 22 branches, and a deposit base that has grown four times since 1995. It has a commanding position in forex, securitization, structured trade finance, and loan syndications – with a $1.15 billion syndicated loan for Nissan Motor, drawable in dollars, yen or euros, being a particular highlight. Its asset-backed deal for Sumitomo Bank Leasing, where it termed outstanding commercial paper into term asset-backed securities, was an equally noteworthy deal. It offered an apt illustration of how Citibank is able to bring its full platform of products to bear and bring Nikko Salomon Smith Barney into the equation too.

 

Best Foreign Commercial Bank – Korea

Citibank

Citibank is the largest foreign bank in Korea in terms of assets, revenues, staff, customer base and branches. It is the longest-serving bank in Korea, having started commercial banking operations in 1967, and it now has the fullest service of any foreign bank operating in the country. With $117 million in local revenues in 2000, the bank made twice as much money as its nearest competitor. This performance has come from four main areas of corporate banking: loans, treasury, transactions and investments. These four components, as well as its strong retail franchise, have resulted in Citibank becoming a leader in product innovation. It is now the relationship bank of choice for many leading local and multinational corporations. Its leading role in the renaissance of Hynix and the reconstruction of the Korean petrochemical sector are also praiseworthy. 

 

Best Foreign Commercial Bank – Malaysia

Citibank

Citibank has become the market leader in Malaysia, bringing new levels of competence to an already competitive banking market. It is run excellently and produced a 2.51% return on assets, and a return on equity of 37%, over double that of the top local Malaysian banks. It expanded its business in a slowing market environment, increasing its net loans by 22% while decreasing its NPL rate to just 2.5%. It is the only bank in the country rated AAA by Rating Agency Malaysia and all of this from just three branches. Despite the small branch numbers, the bank has deep commitment to the nation, with Citibank’s regional trade operations center in Penang, and the inclusion of a securities custody unit in its operations. It has secured key commercial banking mandates doing some of the more high profile transactions of the year. Of the many client testimonials, Citibank Malaysia included one stating: “Citibank KL has good depth of experience in its team, the staff are always available to support inquiries. This reflects the attention to detail required in a highly regulated market… Wow, why can’t Citibank be like this in all markets! This should be the benchmark service.”

 

Best Foreign Commercial Bank – Philippines

Citibank

In the many high-level testimonials Citibank delivered from the Philippines, one satisfied corporate chief proclaimed: “Over the years, I have witnessed Citibank consistently and visibly demonstrating tenacity of purpose, novel approaches, and success in responding to the many challenges and issues of its customers. They are an institution that continues to earn my respect and confidence. Citibank delivers.” Just as persuasive as these testimonials are the facts. Citibank has the highest asset and deposit base among foreign banks in the Philippines, with almost three times more assets than the next-largest foreign bank. Its deal list is comprehensive. The quality of Citibank in the Philippines – where it has trained so many of the countries best bankers (including the Central Bank governor) – is outstanding.

 

Best Foreign Commercial Bank – Singapore

Citibank

Citibank is a remarkable performer in the city state’s commercial banking scene. Driven by its desire to be as embedded as any local bank (or as embedded as the authorities will allow), the bank nevertheless maintains its global stamp of excellence. In the past year, lead by the inimitable Sunil Sreenivasan, the bank has risen to new heights, especially in the burgeoning local debt markets. It has used its corporate relationships to build the strongest debt franchise of any foreign bank, being active in loans and bonds, in Singapore dollars and foreign currencies, for its domestic and international clients. It is a market leader in new cash management products and has some of the highest trade services revenues of any bank. It is also the market leader in foreign exchange services in Singapore, an increasingly important trading centre. Citibank sets the pace in Singapore, which other banks – both local and foreign – have to follow.

 

Best Foreign Commercial Bank – Taiwan

Citibank

Citibank is unmatched in the local Taiwanese commercial banking market in the sheer size, breadth and depth of its operations. The most noteworthy development to its business this year has been the strategic tie up with the Fubon Group, which has further deepened Citibank’s ties with its Taiwanese clients. The bank is the most embedded foreign financial institution and has the product capability to match. It is a leading loan originator and underwriter, and has leading positions in trade finance, transaction services, structured finance and cash management. In particular, the bank is the first in the country to offer billing outsourcing and mass collections to its corporate customers, vastly improving the back office efficiency of its clients. This dedication to innovation and service has produced some spectacular results. The bank recorded a 102% increase in pre-tax earnings to $255 million. 

 

Best Foreign Commercial Bank - Thailand

HSBC

HSBC has had an excellent year, and views Thailand as an important growth market. Little wonder, when its net income rose 205% and its return on equity in Thailand doubled. According to a well-regarded and comprehensive survey, it ranked first in foreign exchange in Thailand by market share, and presence among foreign banks. Its Bt888 million and $22.9 million term loan facility for Thai Tank Terminal was among the year’s highlights as was the fact that trade finance business volumes grew 24%. In its testimonials, HSBC again demonstrates its clients' satisfaction. Its presentation also demonstrated some innovative approaches it has taken to solving client’s problems such as one of Thailand’s leading rayon suppliers that secured a major contract in Syria and needed help due to Syrian forex regulations. It is hardly surprising that with its total client approach, HSBC saw its cash management mandates increase 800%, with one satisfied multinational testimonial saying: “HSBC is prepared to go the extra mile in order to achieve some of the objectives they have set themselves. The service we receive from HSBC enables us to take the worry out of the business and focus on what we are good at.”