Standard Chartered expands capabilities in Asia

Standard Chartered opens a Taiwan desk in Vietnam and adds to its oil and gas team.

With its local subsidiary operational, Standard Chartered Bank has opened a Taiwan desk in Vietnam catering to growing bilateral trade flows.

On August 1, the State Bank of Vietnam approved Standard Chartered to open a wholly foreign-owned local subsidiary in the country. With the new status in hand, the bank is responding to customer demand with a new Taiwan desk providing trade and wholesale banking products to Standard Chartered customers in the country.

The desk, more of a unit than a physical "desk", will focus primarily on trade relationship management. It is the first such desk in Vietnam.

Jerry Ngo, managing director and head of origination and client coverage for Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam at Standard Chartered, explained that the choice of Taiwan for Vietnam's first desk was based on client needs and the growing bilateral investment and trade flows.

According to the Taiwan Trade Centre in Ho Chi Minh City, Taiwanese investment in Vietnam totalled $8.6 billion last year and total trade equalled some $9.7 billion.

"This new initiative is in line with our aim to be the right partner for Taiwanese corporates in Vietnam and Taiwan," said Ngo.

The desk is part of Standard Chartered's origination and client coverage programme, an initiative designed to put wholesale customers at the centre of their business.

Vietnam's new Taiwan desk is not the bank's first. Standard Chartered already has existing Taiwan desks in China and Hong Kong as well as Japan and Korea desks in India and the Middle East. One of the key features of a desk is multilingual language capabilities, for example, staff on the new desk in Vietnam are able to speak Mandarin.

Standard Chartered is also ramping up its mergers and acquisitions team. Earlier this week it appointed Kevin Smith global head of oil and gas corporate advisory. Based in London, he will be part of the bank's global M&A advisory team.

The appointment is part of the bank's ongoing push to strengthen its M&A capabilities. Earlier this year it acquired African M&A specialist First Africa Group and in 2007 it bought boutique oil and gas M&A advisory firm Harrison Lovegrove.

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