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Allan Saunderson is managing editor of Property Finance Europe and a contributor to GlobeSt.com.

MOSCOW-The British-based global banking group HSBC is to open five retail branches in Russia as part of a $200 million program to expand local operations, and has plans to gradually expand organically in the country.

The initial four retail branches will be located in Moscow, with the fifth on the renowned Nevsky Prospekt main street in St. Petersburg. “We have plans to continue expanding organically afterward,” HSBC Russia CEO Stuart Lawson said. The bank, which invested an initial $100m in the nation last September, will initially target financial services for high net worth clients though its HSBC Plus Russia service requires only a minimum deposit of RUB75,000 ($2,390) to open a basic account.

The bank’s Premiere brand however requires at least least RUB1.5 million of savings for a service that sets up clients with personal account managers and allows them access to the same HSBC services globally. HSBC will be following in the footsteps of Citibank, which began offering its own high-end Citigold service in 2002.

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