All Eyes on China’s Economic Expansions

While much of the world is still feeling the economic downturn, China stands strong with its confidence in its economic future. Last week, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said that he is confident in China’s economy.  He has openly welcomed foreign companies like ARC Investment Partners to share in the country’s growth.

As Wen said during his keynote speech at the opening of the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in the northeastern city of Dalian, “We sincerely welcome foreign companies to actively involve themselves in China’s reform and opening up process and share the opportunities and benefits of China’s prosperity and progress.”

China is becoming more desirable for outside investors of all sorts. Recently, HSBC Holdings Plc. found that wealthy people in China are the youngest in Asia, outside of Japan.  In a recent HSBC report that covered Australia, China, India, Indonesia, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore and Taiwan, they found that the average age of people in China who have liquid assets of at least 500,000 yuan was 36. This was in comparison to 48 in Hong Kong and 38 in Indonesia.

According to the report, more than 25% of wealthy Asians will be investing in greater China and Southeast Asian funds and equities in the next six months. Certainly, fund companies outside of China similarly have their eyes set on this region, and on the ever-increasing economic expansions happening in China.

The expansion into the Asian market is being seen in many sectors.  In the technology sector, companies are trying to get into the market and to target products to this new rising wealthy class.  Investment managers like Adam Roseman of ARC Investment Partners have also made China their main focus on interest.  Global banks like HSBC, Citigroup Inc. and Standard Chartered Plc are expanding into this area as well.

Citigroup: Putting Money In; Taking Money Out

Citigroup Asia Investments

Latest news from Citigroup Inc. is the possibility of a $2bn investment in Asia Pacific banking. This is in line with the bank’s attempt to increase its “service offerings to the expanding middle class in the region.” According to the company’s Asia-Pacific region head of consumer banking Jonathan Larsen, “the opportunity is very significant. I think the broad trend will continue, i.e. the growth of the middle class, the increase in concentration of affluent, the increase in growth of consumption.” The stock price has changed -5.9 percent over the last three months.

New Profit Areas for Citigroup

This move will lead to new areas of profitability for Citigroup since at some point it was banned from adding Indonesian wealth management clients due to a potential fraud issue. Since the bank makes tons of its money through emerging markets, this new area will clearly render it a great deal of extra monies.

Bad Citigroup Publicity

Well sometimes even a reputable institution like Citigroup can fall into bad ways or at least be accused of t his. According to Arief Sulistyanto (National Police Director for Economy and Special Crime) it has been alleged that a local relationship manager stole 16.1 billion rupiah from three clients back in 2009-10 “by using blank forms signed by the customers.”

Clearly Citigroup needs to move away from bad things happening and clear its good name. Thankfully it has a pretty good reputation and with its new moves into potential Asia investments, it needs to work hard to maintain (and improve on) this so that they are known for putting money in (vis-à-vis investments) rather than taking money out (alleged stolen money).