HSBC to launch retail branches in Japan next year

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British-based HSBC said Thursday it planned to make its long-awaited entry into Japan's retail banking sector early next year with a nationwide network of branches targeting wealthy individuals.

HSBC is aiming to lure high income customers away from the Japanese banks and vie with US financial giant Citigroup which is expanding its Citibank network in the world's second-largest economy.

The banking giant will open branches in Tokyo, the western city of Osaka and other major metropolises targeting an estimated 6.3 million people with liquid financial assets of at least 10 million yen (86,700 dollars).

"Japan is a key market for HSBC and we believe now is the right time to expand our presence here with the launch of our unique personal financial service offering," HSBC's Japan head, Stuart Milne, said in a statement.

HSBC is looking to expand its presence in Asia. On Monday it announced a deal to buy half of South Korea's sixth-biggest bank, Korea Exchange Bank, for about 6.3 billion dollars from US private equity fund Lone Star.

HSBC already has a presence in Japan mainly focusing on corporate financial services.

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