TD Waterhouse Group said Thursday that it received a green light from regulators to begin trading local securities in Hong Kong.
TD Waterhouse Hong Kong is to begin offering local securities in the fourth quarter, said Karen L. Buck, a senior vice president. In 1996 the unit of Toronto-Dominion Bank kicked off its brokerage presence in Hong Kong, selling North American securities to expatriate investors, Ms. Buck said.
Besides getting its license, TD Waterhouse has acquired a seat on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange from a local brokerage, Harvester Securities Co. The seat will give TD Waterhouse better access to Hong Kong stocks, Ms. Buck added.
And next year the brokerage plans to roll out on-line securities trading and the ability to buy stocks via cellular phone in Hong Kong, she added. The percentage of people in Hong Kong using Internet trading is "very small," Ms. Buck said, "but there is a large interest in cell phone trading."
TD Waterhouse has one Hong Kong branch and 25 employees, Ms. Buck said. It will hire 15 employees in the fall, she said, and may open additional offices eventually. Ms. Buck added that it has always been the company's model to "complement" electronic trading with a physical presence.
TD Waterhouse has 2.8 million customers worldwide and $1.13 billion of assets. It has offices in Canada, the United States, Britain, and Australia.
"It's very hard to build a presence in Hong Kong without trading local securities," said Bill Burnham, an e-commerce analyst at Credit Suisse First Boston in San Francisco.
But TD Waterhouse has some competition in that part of Asia from the discount brokerage giant Charles Schwab Corp., Mr. Burnham said. Schwab expects to roll out trading in local securities early next year, said a company spokesman.