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Barclays opens Manila office

By Doris Dumlao
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 03:20:00 02/20/2009

Filed Under: Banking

British financial giant Barclays Plc has set up shop in the Philippines, initially focusing on the investment banking business, in line with its strategy to expand in the Asia-Pacific region, Barclays chairman Marcus Agius, who is visiting the Philippines for the first time, announced Thusday.

He said the Philippines was among the 13 countries chosen to benefit from a global community investment partnership with United Nations Children?s Fund (UNICEF), which seeks to provide young people with access to education, vocational training and support opportunities for entrepreneurship. The other countries are Kenya, India, Egypt, Botswana, Mexico, Pakistan, Russia, Zambia, China, the UK, Nigeria and Brazil, he said.

In the Philippines, the program aims to help 40,000 impoverished people in two pilot communities in Pasay City and Masbate comply with the conditions needed to qualify for the government?s conditional cash transfer (CCT) program. The British bank has earmarked 250,000 British pounds for the Unicef partnership in the Philippines.

?We opened last week a new representative office as an indication of our intention to do more business in the Philippines,? Agius said at a press briefing.

Across the Asia-Pacific, Barclays is active in investment banking, asset management, wealth management as well as retail banking in India. Over the years, it has moved from being a UK-focused bank to be a global player, now generating half of its business outside its home base. Recently, it acquired the North American operations of the bankrupt US investment bank Lehman Brothers.

The acquisition of Lehman Brothers? operations has given Barclays a platform for equities trading especially in Asia-Pacific, Barclays vice chairman David Wright said. While the bank was not keen yet on opening retail banking operations in Manila, he said the bank would be open to more opportunities.

The office in Manila will be under the regional offices in Hong Kong and Singapore. The bank?s country representative is Ronaldo Ivasco, a Filipino investment banker who was formerly with Goldman Sachs. Ivasco will be based in Hong Kong.

Wright said Barclays, being a big player in global bond trading, thought it should operate close to the Philippines, which is one of Asia?s most active sovereign offshore debt issuers.

Wright said Barclays would now have greater capability to be involved in merger and acquisition activities in the country and the rest of the region.



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