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Citic stretches its ambitions beyond China

CLSA stake and landmark deals show China could have an international investment banking champion.

China’s leading securities companies enjoy a natural dominance of the tightly controlled domestic capital markets, with the established top players, Citic Securities and CICC, tested on home soil much more by the rising crop of competitors linked to domestic banks than they are by foreign firms.

Their almost guaranteed presence on every cross-border investment or fundraising deal by a Chinese company means China’s biggest securities companies place highly in the year-end league tables for Asia excluding Japan. But the ambitions of Citic in particular appear to stretch much further than that.

China is keen to establish its industry leaders in investment banking as world beaters, however long that may take, and it is clear from the activities of Citic Securities in the past two years that the firm is leading that charge. Its chief rival, CICC, is admired more by many bankers from rival foreign firms who have worked with both Chinese companies on cross-border investment banking deals, with CICC’s (often fractious) former partnership with Morgan Stanley affording it an advantage in learning deal expertise.

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