ABN AMRO said on Thursday its private banking arm had hired a team of six private bankers from rival HSBC Holdings Plc in Taiwan, the latest move to highlight the industry's fierce battle for talent in high-growth Asia.

ABN AMRO said it hired two other private bankers in Taiwan, and that the team of eight will be based in Hong Kong, serving wealthy individuals in Taiwan and the China region.

An HSBC spokeswoman could not immediately be reached for comment.

ABN AMRO said six members of the team were on board as of October, with the remaining two joining in December.

China and Taiwan are important markets for ABN AMRO Private Banking as these countries are forecast to grow private wealth at a compounded annual growth rate of more than 10 percent over the next few years, Hans Diederen, the Dutch lender's regional head of private banking for North Asia, said in a statement.

ABN AMRO Private Bank said it has also recently appointed Gloria Sun, who previously held the role of team head, as market manager for Taiwan, reporting to Diederen.

It said that with the new hires, it has more than doubled employee numbers within its Taiwan team from 12 in January to 30 in October.

The hirings mark the second time this year that ABN AMRO has significantly expanded its team at the expense of a competitor.

In April it revealed its Hong Kong arm had hired a team of seven from the private banking arm of French rival Societe Generale.

The hirings come after financial services firm Fortis last month won an offer with Royal Bank of Scotland and Spain's Santander to buy Dutch rival ABN AMRO's Dutch and private banking operations.

Soaring wealth and high savings have made Asia the world's hottest market for the private banks, which cater exclusively to the wealthy.

The number of wealthy individuals in Asia -- people with more than $1 million in financial assets excluding their homes -- grew 8.6 percent to 2.6 million in 2006, according to a report by Merrill Lynch and consultants Capgemini.

Asia's wealthy saw the value of their assets rise 10.5 percent last year to $8.4 trillion, topping a growth rate of 10.3 percent in North America and 7.8 percent in Europe.