Bank of Boston Corp. - long a force in Latin American banking - is targeting Asia for a new round of international expansion.

As part of what the bank termed its "increased commitment to expansion of its Asian operations," Bank of Boston last week said it has hired Russ Magarity as managing director for Asia, based in Hong Kong.

Mr. Magarity spent 22 years with Chase Manhattan Corp., the last 10 in Hong Kong as managing director of Chase Asia Ltd.

He is the second senior Chase officer to join Bank of Boston in recent weeks. Earlier this month, the $51 billion-asset bank hired James Borden, former head of Chase's global foreign exchange operations, to run its foreign exchange unit.

Mr. Magarity will report to Mark MacLennan, group executive for global financial services.

"Asia is consistently attracting more direct investment dollars than any other region in the world and is a critical link in our international growth strategy," Mr. MacLennan said.

The Boston-based bank has embarked on an ambitious plan to double revenues from its overseas operations. As part of this program, it has opened several offices in China, Indonesia and India during the last two years, bringing to 13 its offices in Asia.

Bank of Boston has ample capital to spend on Asia. The bank last year earned $16 million in net income on about $1 billion in assets in the region, up 78% over 1994. Despite the large increase, that still came to only 10% of earnings from Latin America and 3% of total earnings for the year.

Bank of Boston is not the only U.S. bank with an interest in Asia. BankAmerica Corp. earned $94 million in Asia last year; Bankers Trust New York Corp., $71 million; Chase Manhattan Corp., $251 million; Citicorp $781 million, and J.P. Morgan & Co., $119 million.

But growing involvement in Asia has led to a sharp rise in the cross- border exposure of U.S. banks to developing countries there, from slightly more than $21 billion in the third quarter of 1992 to nearly $36 billion at the end of last year, according to a recent report by Salomon Brothers.

"These markets all contain nuances of their own, which require prudent management of a variety of risks in order to be successful," the Salomon report cautioned.

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