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Barclays gunning for Asia's trade flows, hiring corporate bankers

Barclays is gunning for Asia's lucrative trade flows business and hiring corporate bankers in the region to lead this push.

Barclays is gunning for Asia's lucrative trade flows business and hiring corporate bankers in the region to lead this push.

The UK-bank announced this new growth phase for its corporate banking business in Asia, following last year's restructuring which saw it pivot to the UK, US and Africa and cut back on Asia.

"Alexander Harrison has been appointed to lead the next phase of strategic growth in the region," Barclays said on Wednesday.

"The bank is currently hiring corporate bankers in Asia, as it grows and deepens its corporate client base alongside its financial institutions franchise. With corporate banking hubs in Singapore, India, Hong Kong and Japan, the bank plans to increase revenues significantly," it said.

Barclays has three key home markets, the UK, US and Africa, said spokesman John McGuinness on the seeming change in direction.

"However, Asia also remains vital to the business, primarily because of the cross-border trade and investment between Asia and these markets.

We did not signal a downscaling of ambition in Asia last year, only a restructure across the business more generally, with a focus on the businesses we do well," he said.

Mr Harrison will be based in Singapore, which remains a corporate banking hub in Asia.

Singapore is also a key hub for the group's fixed-income and macro business, which is foreign exchange and interest rates. The group's global procurement functions, back-office IT and operations teams are here too.

Relocating from Dubai to Singapore, Mr Harrison's role will focus on supporting Asia-Pacific corporates and financial institutions with growth ambitions in its key corporate banking markets of Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA).

Barclays' latest effort in the region comes as Asia slows down but bankers say that there is no let up by multi-nationals investing in this part of the world. Business between Africa and Asia is also growing.

Barclays has also set up specific India, China and Japan desks in the UK, and a China desk in Africa, to better facilitate trade between EMEA and Asia.

Growth may be slowing in Asia but it is still significant, and outperforming most other regions, said Mr McGuinness.

Our corporate banking business provides complementary banking services to our investment bank, such as trade finance and sterling and euro clearing, and therefore there is huge opportunity in cross-selling these capabilities with existing clients, he said.

Our focus here is very much on Asian corporate and financial institutions who want to do business in EMEA in particular, where we have the on the ground corporate banking footprint and infrastructure, he said.

Barclays Singapore employs 3,350 people.