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Standard Chartered goes on the attack in Asia

After weathering the financial crisis better than most of its rivals, the bank is adopting an aggressive strategy in Asia. It has spent heavily and hired top talent, but getting the new generation to gel with the old won’t be easy. Lawrence White spoke to the heads of the main businesses.

PINNED ON THE wall in the Hong Kong office of Jaspal Bindra, chief executive Asia of Standard Chartered, is a football scarf with Liverpool printed on one half of it and the name of his bank on the other. Like much of what the bank does these days, its sponsorship deal with one of the English Premier League’s leading clubs was a bold statement of intent. It was also a savvy piece of branding, bringing the (nominally UK-based) bank to the attention of both Liverpool’s domestic followers and its large Asian fan base.

There is a confidence and sense of purpose about the management of Standard Chartered in Asia these days. The firm had a good crisis. It avoided the reputational damage and balance-sheet destruction that have hammered its peers in the past two years. Its base in the emerging markets of the Middle East, Africa and Asia gives it a natural advantage now that those are the regions of the world with some of the best opportunities for growth. The bank is looking to capitalize on its position by building in Asia, expanding on existing successful businesses such as lending, local-currency bonds and cash management, and developing new businesses such as equity capital markets, M&A, and private banking.

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