abnamro_shanghai.jpgABN Amro, the Dutch banking giant, has joined the growing list of western banks to incorporate locally in China.

Today it held an inauguration ceremony for its new Shanghai-based operation, called ABN AMRO (China) , which will offer yuan-denominated products to mainland residents.

This inauguration follows hot on the heels of similar moves by foreign banks like HSBC, Citigroup, Standard Chartered, Bank of East Asia, Mizuho, DBS Bank and Hang Seng Bank. JP Morgan and three Asian banks are still waiting for approval to incorporate locally.

ABN Amro currently has 14 branches in China where it employs more than 1,000 staff . The bank plans to triple the size of its business in China within the next five years, expanding its network to more than 20 outlets by the end of 2008.

At the inauguration, Jeroen Drost, ABN Amro's CEO in Asia, said that the Dutch bank was still interested in buying a minority stake in China's Huishang Bank, as revealed earlier.

Huishang Bank is a regional lender formed from the merger of various commercial banks and smaller credit cooperatives in eastern Anhui province. The bank has 180 branches with 3,400 employees.

ABN Amro also announced an initiative to alleviate poverty in China with Mercy Corps, a humanitarian organisation.

The project, funded by the ABN Amro Foundation, will see Mercy Corps provide training and apprenticeships to young people from around 300 families in rural China.

Rival Dutch bank Rabobank also is doing its bit to help rural China. Last year it signed a landmark deal with a Chinese rural cooperative bank, thus becoming the first western bank to invest in China's rural banking sector, which has been particularly hard hit by the problem of non-performing loans. More in this EngagingChina story.

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