TOKYO Britain's Barclays Plc (BARC.L) expects to add about 5 percent more staff to its investment banking and private bank arms in Asia-Pacific next year, the bank's regional head said on Tuesday.
Barclays has grown net staff at its investment bank arm Barclays Capital and at its wealth management business by about 5 percent in the past year to around 3,000, excluding its global support hub in Singapore.
Robert Morrice, chairman and chief executive of Barclays in Asia Pacific, said he expected a little more hiring this year and then net growth of 5-6 percent in 2010.
BarCap is building up in equities and M&A advisory as part of its aim to be a top three investment bank.
Private banking arm Barclays Wealth aims to double the amount of assets in the region in the next three years, and would consider acquisitions to bulk up, Morrice said at the Reuters Japan Investment Summit.
Barclays Wealth should have over $10 billion in assets under management in Asia-Pacific excluding Japan by the end of the year, and Morrice said he wants to reach $20 billion by 2012.
"We see some very interesting opportunities in that space. We believe we're still too small and need to grow the business aggressively ... but we need to be patient and pick our spots," Morrice said.
"We wouldn't rule out acquisitions if we saw the right opportunities, both in India and the rest of the Asia-Pacific business," he said.
Barclays Wealth launched an onshore private banking unit in India last year and Morrice said it was on target to have over $1 billion in assets by the end of 2009.
BarCap would also consider acquisitions in Asia, but it was not obvious where a deal was needed, he said.
BarCap has long been strong in debt markets and aims to use last year's purchase of Lehman Brothers' U.S. operations as a springboard to become an equities and M&A powerhouse.
The London-listed firm, Britain's second-biggest bank, is optimistic it can make a mark in Asia at a time when western rivals like Citi (C.N), Bank of America/Merrill Lynch (BAC.N), Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS.L) and UBS UBSN.VX are reshaping and retreating from some areas.
Barclays, which is in 12 countries in Asia-Pacific, has grown aggressively in India in the last five years and now has over 7,000 staff.
Korea and Indonesia were two other markets ripe for growth, Morrice said.
In Japan, Barclays had its best year ever in 2008 and is building up its equities business.
"We have the same ambition in Japan as we have everywhere else, slightly different because there are strong domestic competitors here. We want to be one of the top three foreign banks in Japan, which would give us a springboard to be one of the top five overall," he said.
Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group (8316.T), Japan's third largest bank, invested about $1 billion to buy around a 2 percent stake in Barclays a year ago. The two banks plan closer ties, including in wealth management in Japan.
"We've had a number of discussions with (Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp, the core banking unit of SMFG) about how we can work together in the wealth business in Japan," Morrice said. "We still think there's an opportunity to work together, but we're going through the process of seeing what difference Nikko Cordial makes," he said, regarding Sumitomo's purchase of Nikko Cordial in May.
(For blogs from the Reuters Investment Summit, click on:
(Additional reporting by Michael Flaherty and Yumi Otagaki; Editing by Hugh Lawson)