China International Capital Corporation, formed in 1995, is an investment bank offering a full range of services from equity research through to wealth management and asset management.
We spoke to Xinhan Xia, Chief Executive at CICC UK, about how London infrastructure has supported the company’s operations and helped it sow the seeds for future growth.
What does your company do?
“CICC is a global, full-service investment bank providing banking and investment services to both Chinese and overseas clients. Our domestic market is China, where we are present in the most important regional financial centres for trading, investment banking, and asset management, and via a subsidiary operating over 200 retail branches. CICC’s experience and influence places it at the cutting edge of investment banking and asset management activity and innovation in China, and this has provided opportunities to service the growing domestic Chinese market and facilitate the ambitions of leading Chinese companies to pursue opportunities overseas as well as opening many doors to a potential client base overseas that is looking to identify opportunities in China.
Our London office advises institutional investors in the UK and EU that wish to invest in China, and connects parties in both China and the EU that are looking for M&A investment opportunities in either of the two regions.”
Why did CICC initially move to London?
“We moved to London in 2009 and were the first Chinese firm to become a member of the London Stock Exchange (LSE). In terms of growth potential, London offered us a unique geographical position: the city is very well placed between the Americas and Asia and we are able to conveniently service the EMEA region from here. Joining the LSE in 2011 made available the deepest pool of liquidity in UK markets and we welcomed the recognition and prestige that is associated with LSE membership.
Other important attractions of London were use of English for business transactions and of English law and courts for documentation and dispute resolution. English is the international business language – and although we are a Chinese firm, English is the preferred language of communication in our international offices and for team member communications across borders.”
“It is easy to take London’s unique infrastructure for granted, but establishing and growing our business would not have been as smooth in the many other cities that may compete for selection as a European base.”
How has the City’s support infrastructure helped CICC?
“We have benefited significantly from the support of organisations present in the City. People in the City are very interested to know what is going on in China and being in the City facilitates these exchanges. It is in the City that the seeds of our future opportunities are planted.
Our strong links with the China Britain-Business Council (CBBC) have also been extremely beneficial – we have been able to participate in and contribute to different interest groups and initiatives and our growing networks have provided CICC with the opportunity to build many new business relationships. We are not just talking about senior business leaders either.
We have been able to connect with senior politicians, regulators and other policy makers, thought leaders and other interested stakeholders from around the world through access to high profile events over the years.”
How does London feature in CICC’s future?
“There is no question about the very material importance of London to CICC’s medium and long term strategic development. Although we are a company with deep roots in China, our resolute long-term vision is to continue to expand our international reach and our commitment to the enhancement of high-quality services to support clients for the long term. For all of our clients in the UK and across Europe, our continuing presence in London provides concrete reassurance of our commitment to partner with them, to support their needs and aspirations, and to grow alongside them.
London is a magnet to companies and international banks seeking to sell their products and services across the EU – its role, global influence and diversity are unmatched by any other city. It is an excellent centre from which to expand our EMEA presence more broadly, and our interaction with North America.”
What other benefits has the City offered you?
“The City’s eco-system of professional services has been a great benefit to CICC. Firstly, we were delighted to experience directly how quickly and efficiently a new business can be established and operated here. Long-established practices made it easy to organise everything from finding an office through to gaining regulatory approval and conducting business. It is easy to take London’s unique infrastructure for granted, but establishing and growing our business would not have been as smooth in the many other cities that may compete for selection as a European base.”
“London is an excellent centre from which to expand our EMEA presence more broadly, and our interaction with North America.”
As the world’s premier financial centre and banking hub, London attracts financial institutions wishing to establish a UK or EU presence, irrespective of where they are incorporated. Being in London has given us close proximity and ready access to our UK and EU clients and service provider partners, and offers us unmatched new business opportunities. This proximity and access has been aided by the support infrastructure that exists in the City."