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HSBC to Start Retail Banking Operations in Japan

UK-based banking giant HSBC plans to start retail banking operations in Japan from January 2008, aiming to lure affluent customers away from the country's large banks.

HSBC will face tough competition as big Japanese banks such as Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group (MUFG) and Mizuho Financial Group are pouring resources into retail expansion. U.S.-based Citigroup is also aiming to expand.

HSBC, which has wholesale banking and securities operations in Japan, said in a statement that it would target individuals with at least 10 million yen ($86,910) in assets.

HSBC said it plans to open retail branches in Japanese cities including Tokyo and Osaka.

Citigroup announced plans for a Japanese retail banking expansion in January. The U.S. bank has secured permission from the financial regulator to set up a new, locally incorporated entity and plans to double its retail network to 60 branches in the next several years.