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Standard Chartered may increase staff in Singapore

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Standard Chartered Plc, the UK bank that's cutting US$400 million of costs, will consider starting a desk in Dubai for Japanese corporate clients that wish to expand business in the Middle East.

[TOKYO] Standard Chartered Plc, the UK bank that's cutting US$400 million of costs, will consider starting a desk in Dubai for Japanese corporate clients that wish to expand business in the Middle East.

The bank may also increase staff in Singapore to service Japanese customers that want to boost operations in Southeast Asia, Yasunori Takeuchi, chief executive officer for Japan, said in an interview.

The move would help to bolster the London-based bank's Japanese business, which employs just 170 workers out of Standard Chartered's more than 86,000 staff members. The company closed its Japan wealth-management business in 2012 and is preparing to eliminate thousands of jobs worldwide as part of its cost-cutting drive.

"Japan is still small among our 70 global locations, but it's strategically important because we connect Japanese companies with Asia, the Middle East and Africa," Takeuchi, 53, said in his first interview since taking the post in January, replacing Christopher Knight. "It's a market where we can dig up clients." Standard Chartered may also add staff in Tokyo to deepen relationships with Japanese corporate clients, including financial institutions, he said, declining to give a target.

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Standard Chartered already has Japan desks in China, Singapore, India and Africa.

Mideast Trading A desk in Dubai would help Standard Chartered offer banking services including loans, cash management and payment collection to Japanese manufacturers that are increasingly trading through the Middle East, Takeuchi said. In Singapore, the bank plans to help Japanese manufacturers and textile companies set up operations in Myanmar, Cambodia and Laos as they shift from China to reduce labor costs, he added.

"We will focus on financial services for commercial trading," Takeuchi said.

The British lender opened its first Japan office in Yokohama in 1880. Revenue from Japan totaled 10.5 billion yen (US$88 million) in the year ended March 31, and net income was 1.6 billion yen compared with a loss of 564 million yen a year earlier, regulatory filings show.

Chief Executive Officer Peter Sands, 53, last month pledged to shut equities trading and eliminate about 4,000 consumer banking jobs as part of the plan to cut US$400 million in costs this year.

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