MANILA, June 14, 2005
 (STAR) By Des Ferriols - Foreign banks remain unfazed by the ongoing political controversies in the Philippines, particularly the issue on the legitimacy of the Arroyo administration, noting that these tend to eventually die down, a top HSBC executive said.

Alan Jebson, chief operating officer of the HSBC Group, told reporters yesterday that temporary periods of political uncertainty are not unique to the Philippines.

Jebson is in the country to formally open HSBCís Electronic Data Processing Center (EDPC) in the Northgate Cyberzone, Alabang.

According to Jebson, the HSBC Group was impressed with its new EDPC, the eighth group service center it has opened so far, after the successful operation of its other centers in China, India, Malaysia and Sri Lanka.

"We are a very long-term kind of company," Jebson said. "We have been in this country for 130 years and we have seen through its ups and downs," he pointed out. "This new site is proof of our long-term commitment."

Jebson said HSBC went through similar situations of political uncertainties in countries like China and other parts of Asia but weathered them just as other long-term businesses did.

He said the HSBC Group decided to open the EDPC in the Philippines to take advantage of the countryís high-quality, English-speaking workforce that made the country the ideal site for international resourcing.

"Since we started our group service center operations in the Philippines in June last year, the staff here has exceeded our expectations in delivering world-class standards of service and customer care," Jebson said.

For the moment, Jebson said EDPC would serve the requirements of the HSBC Group but he said the possibility of eventually spinning off the business to sell the service to other companies is not being ruled out.

"Right now, we are concerned with our own needs and making sure we are filling that," Jebson said. "But certainly somewhere down the road we may well do that."

According to HEDPC president David Sutton, the HSBC Group is aiming to eventually operate the center at full capacity with roughly 4,000 seats.

"Right now, we are looking for a shift and a half, thatís about 3,000 seats," he said.

Sutton said future expansion of HEDPCís present capacity is possible but he said the HSBC Group wanted to see how the company would perform first.

"It will depend on the performance of our people here," Sutton said. By the end of 2005, he said the center is expected to expand to 2,000 seats from its present operating strength of 1,300.

The HEDPC handles selected global processing and call center work for HSBC offices outside the Philippines.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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