China tech boom triggers gold rush for Asia's private bankers

May 09 2014, 12:10 IST
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Alibaba's US listing may become the biggest tech IPO in history. Alibaba's US listing may become the biggest tech IPO in history.
SummaryAlibaba IPO is set to create long list of multi-millionaires just from its partners in the company.

Alibaba Group Holding Ltd's planned IPO is set to create a long list of multi-millionaires just from its partners in the company - music to the ears of private bankers seeking to cash in on the wealth created by China's tech sector boom.

While Alibaba's U.S. listing may become the biggest tech IPO in history, it is also just one of more than 120 Chinese tech listings over the past three years.

Combine that with surging share prices for firms such as social messaging giant Tencent Holdings and Internet search provider Baidu Inc, and private banking is having what many in the industry are calling a once in a lifetime opportunity to cultivate China's growing ranks of the super rich.

China already has more millionaires than any other country in Asia except Japan and is likely to have more than 1.3 million by next year - more than double levels five years ago, according to data from Julius Baer.

"Technology globally is one of the key wealth drivers," said Mark Jansen, a partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers. "So it is not surprising we are seeing so much wealth being created in China given the size of the domestic market and surge in demand for everything through the digital space."

In response, private banks are beefing up their teams in Hong Kong and Singapore - seen as gateways for offshore Chinese wealth. Asia's biggest wealth manager UBS, for example, has increased its Asia Pacific wealth management staff by 8 percent this year to 1,120.

The tech, media & telecommunications team at the banking unit of Singapore's DBS Group Holdings has also expanded its services to wealth management, in addition to investment banking and corporate banking.

Tee Fong Seng, market area head of Greater China for Credit Suisse's private bank adds that the bank has seen significant growth in its business and number of relationship managers in Greater China in the last year. The number of its relationship managers across Asia-Pacific has grown 20 percent in the last two years, with bulk of those based in Hong Kong and Singapore.

TECH RICHES

The listing of Alibaba, known as China's Amazon - which some have touted as being worth more than $15 billion - is set to elevate Chairman Jack Ma's wealth ranking to among the top five of Forbes' China rich list, up from eighth place in 2013. His 8.9 percent stake in Alibaba is valued at $10.3 billion based on fair value

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