Israel opens private bank in Asia

Rami Lador will take charge of the new Singapore-based branch of Bank Hapoalim, which will focus on private banking.
IsraelÆs leading lender Bank Hapoalim Group has opened its first branch in Singapore with the aim of capturing growing business opportunities in the region. The bank has appointed Rami Lador to oversee the new branch.

Lador will assume the titles of executive vice president, regional manager for Asia and Singapore branch manager.

The branch was opened through the bankÆs international private banking arm, Bank Hapoalim Switzerland, and makes Hapoalim the first Israeli bank to open a branch in the Lion City. It already has a representative office in Hong Kong.

According to a release, the Singapore branch will provide various global private banking services to Israeli investors, including the provision of investment advice about markets in Asia, Europe and Israel, access to leading companies in Asia, and risk diversification by the means of directing capital and resources to Asia.

ôOne of the primary objectives of our business strategy is to become a global bank providing services throughout the world,ö says Bank HapoalimÆs chief executive officer, Zvi Ziv.

ôSingapore is regarded as the leading private banking centre in Asia and is developing into a leading economic, communications and industrial power in the Far East, which is one of the worldÆs fastest growing regions. I am certain that the establishment of a branch in Singapore will contribute greatly and persistently to the Israeli economyÆs continued integration in the global economy,ö he adds.

Lador, who was most recently responsible for Bank HapoalimÆs foreign trade network, has previously managed the bankÆs branches in Israel and the United States.

The bank refers to SingaporeÆs rapid growth rate and the stock market performance as reasons for its decision to locate its first Asia branch here. Last year the local economy expanded by 7.9%, while the Singapore Straits Times index gained 25%.

It also notes other merits of having Singapore as a base, including its economic, political and social stability, strict adherence to banking confidentiality, an efficient and modern legal system, transportation and communications infrastructures that are among the most advanced in the world and the geographical and cultural proximity to China, India and the economic tigers of Southeast Asia.

Bank Hapoalim is IsraelÆs largest bank with $70 billion in total assets at the end of last year and significant international operations. According to its 2006 annual report, the international activities accounted for 14% of its total banking operations, up from 12% in 2005. CEO Ziv has said he is confident the bank will be able to increase this figure to 30% within the next few years.
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