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FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Deutsche Bank (DBKGn.DE) hopes to open new branches in China at a rate of about one per year as it positions itself to benefit from expanding trade and investment between Asia's largest economy and Europe.
Werner Steinmueller, head of transaction banking at Deutsche, said the expansion was part of the bank's wider efforts to profit from China's economic rise.
"We will steadily open branches," Steinmueller told journalists on Tuesday. The exact pace and path of expansion depends on Chinese regulators who must approve or even guide each opening, he said.
Germany's flagship bank, which has six branches in China now, aims to become the leading European player in the offshore renminbi market, offering importers and exporters trade financing, settlements and debt issuance in the Chinese currency.
Steinmueller said the bank was betting on long-term reforms in Chinese financial regulations to open markets and make renminbi, which is controlled, freely convertible by 2020.
Germany is China's biggest European trading partner with a shared export-import volume of 140 billion euros ($177 billion) in 2013. Renminbi, meanwhile, is expected to grow in importance and become a reserve currency in the coming years, Steinmueller said.
"The renminbi is becoming more and more mainstream," he said.
Deutsche Bank already offers corporate banking and securities services, wealth management, and transaction banking in China. It offers investment banking services domestically through Zhong De Securities Company, a joint venture with Shanxi 002500.SZ Securities Co. Ltd.
China and Germany signed agreements this year to launch clearing and settlement mechanisms in Frankfurt in a move to elevate the role of Germany's financial capital in Chinese finance.
Deutsche said it could divert some of its own renminbi clearing volumes from Shanghai to Frankfurt to support the facility. "If you launch a clearing center then you also have to put some volumes in it," Steinmueller said.
Reporting by Thomas Atkins; editing by Susan Thomas