Bank of America Corp , the largest U.S. bank, plans to seek approval to expand its operations in China, the Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday, citing people familiar with the situation.

According to the Journal, the bank is considering incorporating locally in China, which would mean it would have to inject new capital into its Chinese unit.

Bank of America is more likely to bulk up its commercial business in China, instead of its retail banking business, the Journal said.

A Bank of America spokesman could not be immediately reached for comment.

Bank of America has recently embarked on a major hiring spree across Asia, aiming to expand in the fast growing region and revive the investment banking franchise that Merrill Lynch built before the financial crisis.

The push comes as a surprise to rivals who thought the bank would focus more on rebuilding its U.S. business and a welcome sign for Merrill veterans in Asia who worried their new owner would fail to spend time or money to revive the Asia Pacific business.

(Reporting by Michael Erman; editing by Gunna Dickson)