Citi ramps up ASEAN banking team with 30 hires over past year

SINGAPORE, July 16 (Reuters) - Citigroup Inc said it has hired about 30 bankers over the past year across its banking, capital markets and advisory teams in the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), spurred by robust growth in its ASEAN banking business.

Countries in the bloc such as Vietnam and Thailand are benefiting from the ongoing Sino-U.S. trade war as companies start to shift supply chains to Southeast Asia to escape tit-for-tat tariffs that the world’s two biggest economies are imposing on each other’s goods and services.

“We are seeing growth across local ASEAN companies increasingly going global,” David Biller, head of Citigroup’s ASEAN banking, capital markets and advisory team, said in a statement on Tuesday.

“On the inbound, global multinational companies are increasingly investing in ASEAN and the supply chain shift through many ASEAN countries is leading to increased opportunities for Citi’s ASEAN banking network,” said Singapore-based Biller.

The hires include bankers in Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam and Malaysia – some of Citigroup’s fastest-growing markets in the Asia-Pacific region.

On Monday, Citigroup topped expectations for quarterly profit as a tight lid on costs and strength in consumer lending helped it counter weakness in its trading business.

However, corporate lending was 9% lower than the year-earlier period and Citigroup’s chief financial officer told reporters that the bank’s loans to corporate clients in Asia were down about 5%, partly because of aggressive pricing by competitors, but also because of “some of the trade tensions”.

Citigroup’s revenue from supporting clients in intra-Asian trade corridors rose 18% in the first half. As economic growth slows in developed economies, global banks are stepping up their presence in Southeast Asia, attracted by strong regional trade flows.

Over the past year, Citi advised LafargeHolcim Ltd on the sale of businesses in Indonesia and Philippines and was a joint global co-ordinator for Vinhomes JSC’s $1.35 billion share issue in May 2018.

Reporting by Anshuman Daga; Editing by Christopher Cushing