Standard Chartered is deepening its ties to China with plans to invest HKD 310 million ($40 million) to set up a new center in Guangzhou, as Beijing aims to transform the coastal Greater Bay Area region into an international financial hub.
The London-based bank will be adding around 1,600 staff to the Standard Chartered Greater Bay Area Center by the end of 2023. The center, which will be located in Guangzhou, will be put into operation this quarter, the bank said.
The staff will include new hires and internal transfers, Standard Chartered spokesperson Julie Gibson said.
The bank said the new center is part of its “important strategic plan” to develop the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau area, which will support the operations of retail and corporate banking segments in the region. Additionally, the center will help “promote the development and application of innovative financial solutions and strengthen the cross-boundary banking services” of the bank in the Greater Bay Area.
“The Greater Bay Area is a core area of focus for Standard Chartered, and we’re using our talent, technology and deep client knowledge to develop innovative new products and services to support the GBA initiative,” Standard Chartered’s CEO Bill Winters said.
The Greater Bay Area consists of Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Zhuhai, Foshan, Dongguan, Zhongshan, Jiangmen, Huizhou and Zhaoqing, as well as Hong Kong and Macau.
Winters said the Greater Bay Area is experiencing a “significant increase in demand” for banking services and that the launch of the center is a “shining example” of the bank bringing its strength and expertise “to provide seamless crossboundary banking services for individuals and corporate clients in the region.”
The move to strengthen its presence in the region comes after Standard Chartered became one of two British banks, the other being HSBC, to face criticism in the U.S. and Europe for publicly supporting China’s controversial security law for Hong Kong, which severely restricts civil liberties in the city. The U.S. recently passed a law that would allow sanctions on banks that help China impose the law.
Measures unveiled in May by government regulators to financially support the Greater Bay Area, called Opinions on Providing Financial Support for the Development of Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Greater Bay Area, and the framework of the cross-boundary Wealth Management Connect pilot scheme, announced at the end of June, “will enhance the cross-boundary connectivity in the region and push forward the opening up and innovation of the financial industry,” said Benjamin Hung, Standard Chartered’s regional CEO of greater China and North Asia, and group CEO of retail banking and wealth management.
“They will also deepen the financial cooperation among mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau and enhance our confidence in the financial and economic outlook of the Greater Bay Area,” Hung said.
Standard Chartered is currently one of the Hong Kong special administrative region’s three note-issuing banks, with the other two being HSBC and Bank of China (Hong Kong) Limited. The bank incorporated its Hong Kong business in July 2004 and now operates as a licensed bank in Hong Kong as Standard Chartered Bank (Hong Kong) Limited, a wholly owned subsidiary of Standard Chartered.