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By Anshuman Daga and Saeed Azhar
SINGAPORE, June 8 (Reuters) - Swiss private bank Lombard Odier is pinning its hopes on a string of partnerships in markets such as Thailand and Australia to accelerate growth and fend off competition from larger private banks equipped with investment banking capabilities.
The Geneva-based bank is looking forward to a potential tie-up in China after signing a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with China's Industrial Bank (CIB) 18 months ago.
"At this stage we are still at an MOU; China is a different story. We want to do something together," Vincent Magnenat, head of private banking for Asia at Lombard Odier, told the Reuters Wealth Management Summit on Monday.
"For China, we have to find out how we can support them. We have started to look into how we can cooperate with CIB, but we will not disclose more details at this stage."
The Swiss bank manages 8 billion francs in Asia, just below 4 percent of its global assets of 215 billion francs at the end of 2014.
Magnenat projected double-digit growth in Asia, which is a battleground for private banks and where scale has been an important barometer of success.
He said the private bank, which had its "best ever" year in Asia last year in terms of managing assets and revenue, is looking to build on its local partnerships.
Lombard Odier signed a strategic agreement with Thailand's Kasikornbank late last year, offering its wealth management services to the Thai bank's private clients.
The Thai bank has 8,700 high net worth clients with assets of almost 700 billion baht ($20.70 billion), making up about 40 percent of Thailand's total high net worth market, according to the Thai bank's website.
"Do we have more deals like Kasikorn in Asia? Most probably yes, but when we'll be ready, when we will make sure that we have identified the right people, we'll move on to work and grow that business."
Since 2012, Lombard Odier has forged partnership agreements with Australian wealth manager JBWere and South Korea's Kookmin Bank to tap new opportunities in Asia.
The bank is looking to hire senior relationship managers in Singapore, Hong Kong and Japan and these would be with a minimum experience of 10 years, he said.
The Geneva bank broke with more than two centuries of tradition and published half-year earnings for the first time in August. ($1 = 0.9411 Swiss francs) Follow Reuters Summits on Twitter @Reuters_Summits (Additional reporting by Lisa Jucca and Rou Urn Lee; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman)