Citi joins HSBC in creating senior Belt and Road role

Citi has named New York-based Beibei Li as its head of Belt and Road banking and origination after HSBC moved its Malaysia CEO into a similar position earlier this summer.

So it's not a blip. Following HSBC, Citi too has created a senior banking role dedicated to the  Belt and Road Initiative as Western banks step up their efforts to splice their operations into China's grand inter-regional blueprint and, perhaps, ingratiate themselves more with Beijing.

On Thursday Citi said it had appointed Beibei Li as head of banking and origination for Belt and Road in Asia, having already been the only external global coordinator bank on Bank of China’s $10 billion Belt and Road multi-currency international bond issue in April.

That's after Mukhtar Hussain started his similarly new-fangled role as HSBC's head of Belt and Road on July 1.

Hussain is the UK-headquartered bank's former chief executive officer for Malaysia, while Li is poised to relocate to Hong Kong from New York, where she is currently responsible for the Chinese institutional client portfolio in North America. She will report to Gerry Keefe, Citi’s head of corporate banking Asia Pacific and officially starts her new job on September 1.

Belt and Road is China’s $900 billion programme to improve land and sea connections over 65 countries in Asia, Europe and Africa and a potential banking bonanza as funding is sort for an array of major infrastructure projects.

In a press release, Citi said Li will spearhead Citi’s push along the Belt and Road, co-ordinating the bank’s various Belt and Road projects under one leader.

“We have created a new leadership position to help align the firm’s strategic priorities to drive further business opportunities across the BRI economic corridors," Keefe said in the release. 

Citi’s revenue from institutional business in intra-Asia trade corridors has risen 33% so far this year versus the same period a year prior and compared with 18% for all of 2017, a spokesperson told FinanceAsia

As projects along the BRI move from the planning to execution phase, banks are eager to tap into the potential $1.7 trillion that the Asian Development Bank estimates is required annually to fund infrastructure operations across the region.

Li joined Citi in 1999 as a corporate and investment banking management associate in China, and subsequently held roles as a founding member for consumer banking in China in product and market management and as a senior relationship manager for the Asia Pacific office in the US, before taking her last role in 2012.

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