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UBS to double China headcount over 5 years, says CEO

[BEIJING] UBS Group chief executive officer Sergio Ermotti said he plans to double headcount in China in the next five years, adding about 600 staff to the bank's existing operations.

The staff increases will be spread across the bank's businesses, which involve wealth management, investment banking and asset management, Mr Ermotti said in an interview with Bloomberg Television in Shanghai on Monday (Jan 11).

The vote of confidence comes after seven months of turmoil in China's markets including two days last week when stock trading was suspended because of excessive declines. The bank's Asia head, Kathryn Shih, said last week that UBS was looking past the volatility, seeing China as a driver of growth for decades to come.

In 2006, the Zurich-based bank became the first foreign firm allowed to invest directly into a fully-licensed Chinese securities business, giving it a lead over rivals including Morgan Stanley and JPMorgan Chase & Co.

Financial firms have been rocked by a roller-coaster ride in Chinese markets, with mainland stocks soaring in the first half of 2015 before reversing so sharply that authorities intervened with support measures and investigations. The authorities are also wrestling with capital outflows and currency volatility as some investors try to profit from gaps between the onshore and offshore yuan rates.