BNP Paribas, France's biggest bank, is building up its onshore private banking presence in China, India and Taiwan and expects total assets under management in Asia to grow by 20 percent a year in the next few years, the head of its Asia private banking operation said.

Michel Longhini, Chief Executive Officer - Asia of BNP Paribas Private Bank, told Reuters that the bank now has 30 staff in its onshore private banking operation in Shanghai and plans to double that to 60 by next year.

China now has more millionaires than France, and soon it will have more millionaires than Germany too. This is where the growth is, Longhini told Reuters in an interview on Monday.

At the end of 2006, China had 345,000 people with investable assets of more than $1 million each, according to the Capgemini Merrill Lynch 2007 World Wealth Report. Germany had 798,000.

In India, BNP Paribas' onshore private banking unit -- which sells rupee-based products and services to domestic clients -- employs 60 people in six cities. In Taiwan, the bank employs 30 people in two cities.

We want to have an onshore presence in these key markets, Longhini said.

Global banks, keen to cash in on Asia's growing wealth, are increasingly keen to set up onshore wealth management centres in order to capture funds of high-net-worth individuals who do not make use of leading offshore centres such as Singapore, Hong Kong or Dubai.

Morgan Stanley told Reuters on Monday it plans to start an India onshore private wealth business by the middle of next year.

The French banking giant also has major onshore private banking centres in Singapore and Hong Kong, which employ 300 and 250 people respectively.

In total, BNP Paribas has about $26-$27 billion in assets under management in Asia and expects that to grow by around 20 percent per year in the next few years.

Longhini said the bank's private banking clients typically have $5 million or more in investable assets, as the private banking unit builds on BNP Paribas' corporate and investment banking activities in Asia.

We work with the business owners. We have strong links with the local tycoons, Longhini said.