Stanchart leans towards Shanghai as its adds Asia staff

Emerging markets bank Standard Chartered has said it will continue hiring aggressively in Asia as it believes growth in the region will outpace that of the rest of the world.

Chief executive Peter Sands said that Stanchart’s hiring spree would include recruiting another 2,000 people in Singapore by the end of next year to take its headcount in the city-state to more than 6,000.

Sands was speaking at the opening of the bank's new Singapore office, which includes a three-level trading room for 790 people that it described as Asia's largest.

"We are in an economic super-cycle," he said.

"Our sense of optimism about the opportunities across Asia and our commitment to investing and building our businesses across Asia hasn't changed at all."

The Wall St Journal also reported that Sands said the bank “would seriously consider” listing in Shanghai when regulations allow.

“We are watching with great interest the moves toward potentially making it possible for international companies to list in Shanghai,” he said.

Asian banks are struggling to raise earnings despite galloping economic growth in region, as stronger loans and increased corporate activity are offset by tough trading conditions, falling interest margins and rising staff costs.

DBS, Southeast Asia's largest lender, for example saw net interest income decline five per cent in the three months to September last year, despite a 15 per cent rise in loans on the previous year.

The Singapore bank, however, still managed to post a 28 per cent rise in net profit due to higher fee income and lower bad debt provisions.

The bank’s December trading update said its costs were rising faster than income as it sought to hire and retain staff across its main Asian markets.

It employs over 80,000 people globally but added 7,000 employees to its headcount last year and expects to make "significant hirings" in 2011, finance director Richard Meddings said at the time.