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REFILE-UBS aims to double China investment banking staff for growth

(Refiles to clarify in para 4 that UBS Securities Co Ltd employs over 200 people in investment banking,brokerage and research roles - excluding back office and other support staff)

SHANGHAI/HONG KONG, Jan 11 (Reuters) - UBS Group AG aims to double staff at its China investment banking business in 3-5 years, seeking to capture growth opportunities unleashed by Beijing’s capital market reforms, a senior executive said on Monday.

Eugene Qian, chairman of UBS’ China brokerage venture, also said there’s a price to pay for not investing in China, describing the Trump administration’s measures to restrict investment toward China as “unnecessary.”

“As China continues to open up its capital markets, more foreign capital is coming in, making talents in China scarce,” said Qian, chairman of UBS Securities Co Ltd.

The brokerage venture currently employs over 200 people in investment banking,brokerage and research roles - excluding back office and other support staff - and aims to double that number.

“No global investor can ignore China. If you don’t invest in China, you would underperform those who do,” he said in an interview on the sidelines of the UBS Greater China Conference in Shanghai.

In addition to investment banking, UBS Group also plans to aggressively expand its wealth management and asset management business in China. Having more than doubled total China staff to nearly 1,300 since 2015, the Swiss group will continue to make “strategic hirings”, Qian said.

Global banks and asset managers including UBS, JPMorgan and BlackRock are ramping up investment in China as the country fully opened up its financial sector last year as part of a trade deal with the United States. Foreign capital is also pouring into Chinese stocks and bonds.

In the latest move against China, outgoing U.S. President Donald Trump banned U.S. investment in Chinese companies allegedly owned or controlled by the military.

Such restrictions are “unnecessary,” Qian said, adding he expects the relationship to improve under the Joe Biden administration, though a quick reversal of Trump’s policy is not likely.

Meanwhile, UBS’ Asia Pacific president Edmund Koh downplayed the prospect of Hong Kong losing its status as a global financial capital as the result of the city’s tough new national security laws.

“It is one of our most important locations and will remain a very important location - I’m very confident of that,” he said.

“It has been home to so much entrepreneurial flare for so many decades, it would be foolhardy for anyone to think it will do anything but continue to thrive.”

Qian said that one of UBS’ competitive advantages over local rivals has been its ability to facilitate cross-border investment, and help Chinese companies raise money offshore, including in Hong Kong. (Reporting by Samuel Shen in Shanghai and Scott Murdoch in Hong Kong Editing by Susan Fenton)

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