(Bloomberg) -- CLSA Ltd. plans to double the number of investment banking staff it has in Southeast Asia over the next five years, according to a senior executive, as the arm of one of China’s largest state-owned conglomerates, Citic Group Corp., seeks to tap into the region’s rapid growth.

“Southeast Asia is one of those bright spots if you look at where growth is,” Xianjie Boey, CLSA’s head of investment banking for Southeast Asia said in an interview during the Citic CLSA ASEAN forum in Bangkok last week. “We are looking to expand and to grow. Over the next five years, I do want to double my headcount. I think this will make us stand out in the region.”

The Southeast Asia team numbers more than 20, and the plan is for that figure to reach close to 50 by 2028, Boey said. The region will benefit from China’s reopening, he said, adding that the firm is getting more inquiries from Chinese corporates who are keen to invest here.

CLSA’s parent company Citic Securities Ltd. leads the global league tables for initial public offerings so far this year with $1.8 billion worth of deals, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The firm clinched the top spot in 2022 for the first time, rising from the eighth position the year before. 

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The unit is in a unique position to activate deals from China, Boey said. CLSA is the only Chinese-backed investment bank to have a presence in five Southeast Asian markets — Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines and Thailand — and has a history in the region dating back more than 35 years, he said.

Deal Activity

Boey expects private equity firms to drive deal activity in the region as most of them have investments that are near maturity and may want to exit, he said. Some of these funds have also raised quite a bit of money in past years and will need to deploy it, he said.

He cited digital infrastructure such as data centers and telecommunications towers as well as health-care services, renewable energy and real estate among the sectors that may see more deals.

In terms of countries within Southeast Asia, Singapore will stand out as it is the regional hub and headquarters for many companies and buyout firms, Boey said. Indonesia will attract interest because of the sheer size of its economy, which is backed by natural resources, he added.  

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