Citigroup will hire nearly 12,000 in China for its banking unit

The company's Asia division was the largest contributor to its earnings in 2008 and 2009, when it lost $29.3 billion. Citigroup took a $45 billion bailout from the Troubled Asset Relief Program.

About 80 percent of the new employees will handle consumer and institutional banking, while the rest will deal with technology support and data processing, Stephen Bird, Citigroup’s co-chief executive officer for the region, said in an interview.

The company doesn't intend to sell shares in China like HSBC or Standard Chartered, and will pay for the expansion with other Asian funds, Bird said. 

“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.”

China opened its banking industry to outside companies nearly four years ago. 

Citigroup has 29 outlets in China with plans to add 10 more this year. 

HSBC boasts nearly four times as many, with 102 branches, while Standard Chartered has 59. Standard Chartered, a bank out of the United Kingdom, has more than 4,000 employees in China, while HSBC, Europe’s largest lender by market value, has more than 5,000. 

Industrial and Commercial Bank of China had 390,000 employees at the end of last year.