Citigroup Launches Yuan-Denominated Bank Accounts In UK

May 30, 2012, 1:00 p.m. ET
By William Kemble-Diaz

LONDON (Dow Jones)–Citigroup (C) said Wednesday that it is launching yuan-denominated bank accounts in the U.K., providing further evidence that banks are stepping up their efforts to help London gain traction as a key offshore yuan-trading center.

Citigroup said its new product offering will make it possible for clients to make and collect payments in yuan–or renminbi–in the U.K. and to receive trade financing, foreign-exchange services and hedging solutions geared toward the Chinese currency.

“Our London platform is an ideal hub to roll out our new renminbi solution, thereby allowing our clients to gain better access to the Chinese market and capture new growth opportunities,” said Rajesh Mehta, Citigroup’s head of treasury & trade solutions for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, citing a huge recent spurt in yuan-denominated trade between Europe and China.

Excluding China and Hong Kong, Europe’s share in yuan payments jumped to 47% in the first quarter of 2012, from 36% in the same period a year earlier, according to data from the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication.

Citigroup’s initiative follows the announcement by Standard Chartered PLC (STAN.LN) earlier this month that it had issued in London more than RMB1 billion ($158 million) of three- to six-month euro commercial paper, bridging the gap between longer-dated offshore yuan-denominated, or dim sum, bonds and traditional deposits.

Meanwhile, HSBC Holdings PLC (HBC) in April launched the first offshore yuan-denominated bond priced outside China and Hong Kong, a three-year bond listed in London.

In a joint private-sector forum last week, representatives of seven banks from London and Hong Kong agreed to continue encouraging corporate use of the Chinese currency to settle exports and imports with Chinese counterparts.

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