Citigroup Inc. plans to increase its work force in China to as many as 12,000 employees over the next three years, Bloomberg News quoted the financial services giant's Asia-Pacific co-chief executive Stephen Bird as saying in an interview.

New York-based Citi will hire more people in China than in any other market in the region, Bird told the news outlet on Monday. The company has 4,500 employees in China and 50,000 in Asia, a Citi spokesman told Bloomberg.

"China is one of Citi's priority markets globally," Bird said. "We have aggressive consumer-banking expansion plans and want to open branches as fast as regulators in China will let us."

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