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Merrill Lynch to expand its presence in China

“I am very optimistic about the growth in China and opportunities there, Merrill Lynch need to expand our business in China,” John Thain, CEO of Merrill Lynch, told Xinhua in an exclusive interview Tuesday.

“I am excited about the opportunities we can develop there, working with financial institutions, the government and regulators, to really bring many of our products, structures, and hopefully the good governance,” said the head of the US largest retail brokerage firm. He is to start his first official visit to China as the CEO of Merrill Lynch late this week, during which Thain will hold meeting with government and corporate leaders. “We have a very strong wealth management business, strong investment bank business, sales and trading business. We think all of those businesses present opportunity for us in China,” said the CEO, who knows well how to seize the opportunity in emerging markets. “Sixty percent of our revenues are already generated overseas,” said Thain. “We see the best growth opportunities in those rapidly growing economies in the world, so in India, Russia, China, Brazil, in the Middle East, these are rapidly growing economies. There is a great need of capital, these are also creation of great wealth, (and) our ability to provide wealth management expertise is particularly valuable.”

Thain, who has seen China as one of the biggest opportunities since he joined the New York Stock Exchange in 2004, visited China a couple of times in recent years. Describing himself as an old friend of China, Thain is eager to continue collaboration with the country. “I think we have the opportunity to help with the development of the financial institutions, with the governance structures in China,” he said.

Merrill Lynch was the first US securities firm to open an office in China and opened a representative office in Shanghai in 1993. “We are able to bring a broader range of products, we trade the full range of products around the world, and we manage for our clients about $2 trillion at wealth management business, so that expertise of managing that $2 trillion across the entire range of different products available, I think that’s one of the changes we bring to China,” said Thain. Thain heads one of the world’s most sophisticated wealth management, capital markets and advisory companies, with offices in 40 countries. “We can also bring our expertise, bring our corporate governance standards, bring our disclosure standards, all can be very helpful,” he added. (