SINGAPORE, Oct 5 Citigroup's newly created unit to serve Asia's super-rich plans to hire

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SINGAPORE, Oct 5 (Reuters) Citigroup's newly created unit to serve Asia's super-rich plans to hire 10 high profile bankers and aims for annual revenue growth faster than its wealth business in Asia, the head of the unit told Reuters on Friday.

The mega-wealth unit has been created to advise clients on investments, business alliances and wealth preservation. Many of those customers would be billionaires in key centres such as Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Indonesia, said Akbar Shah, head of Citigroup's mega-wealth unit for Asia-Pacific.

''Ideally, I would have a team of 10 senior private bankers, with each banker managing 10 to 15 client relationships representing $2.5 billion in assets and earning $25 million in revenue each,'' Shah said.

The unit caters to people with at least $250 million in tangible net worth -- such as businesses -- including at least $50 million in investable assets.

Shah said his unit aims to beat the growth Citi's wealth management unit has seen in the last five years.

Citi's wealth management business in Asia has seen its revenue, net income and client assets grow at an average annual rate of 15-25 percent in the last five years, the bank said.

Citi's private banking arm, which targets clients who have $10 million in investable assets, says its private banking clients in the region included half of Asia's billionaires.

ASIA'S RICHEST The mega-wealth unit would base its bankers in Hong Kong and Singapore, where some of the wealthiest in Asia live, such as Asia's richest man Li Ka-shing.

Investment banks Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley also target super-rich clients who have at least $20 million in investable assets.

The private banking arm of UBS, the biggest wealth manager in the world, has a lower base, starting at clients with $1 million in assets.

Several new players have jumped into Asia, with an eye on the region's 2.6 million ''high-net-worth individuals'' who according to a Merrill Lynch/Capgemini report had $8.4 trillion of assets at the end of 2006.

Shah said there were tremendous opportunities because the super rich have become more wealthy in the last three years.

''The larger families have made a lot of money, they have done well from a liquidity standpoint,'' he said.

''The question is really can you find enough stuff to give them that add values to them rather than just investing in their own business. Once they take that off the table, then you need to find them stuff.'' Shah, a Citi veteran of more than two decades' service, was previously chief executive of Citi's Global Wealth Management business for the Middle East.

He said the bank is also arranging several meetings between propsective investors in Asia and the Middle East that may lead to future investments in the two regions.

''We have clients from Asia to travel to Abu Dhabi to see if there is anything in real estate,'' he said, while Middle Eastern families were also visiting Asia looking for opportunities in China and India.

REUTERS KR ND1735

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