* MUFG plans to lend more to foreign customers -senior exec
* Eyeing top ten spot among U.S. banks -senior exec
* Aims to be top five DCM player in Europe after lending drive
* Looking at potential purchases in asset management
By Sarah White and Douwe Miedema
LONDON, March 14 (Reuters) - Japan's Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group (8306.T) (MUFG) eyes a big hike in overseas revenue, hiring staff in its European investment bank and lending more to foreign customers as rivals retreat, a top executive told Reuters.
The Japanese lender wants to be in the top 10 in the United States - where it has a commercial banking network - measured by assets and profit, said Takashi Morimura, head of the group's global business unit.
"We would like to enhance our business in overseas markets," Morimura said. "Our penetration to European corporates has been increasing." MUFG's access to Asian economies had been a major advantage in attracting such clients.
"After the Lehman shock, many companies in the United States and Europe tried to invest their money in Asia because it is a growing economy."
MUFG, Japan's biggest bank by assets, posted a 39 percent drop in quarterly net profit in February, hit by weak stock markets affecting clients. Its market value currently stands at $74 billion.
Foreign markets contribute 16 percent to the group's revenues and it plans to significantly increase that percentage, Morimura said. But he declined to quantify the number or to give an exact timeframe for the build-out.
European clients are far more lucrative for the bank than others. Its 1,000 European customers contributed 80 percent of the global investment bank's profits even though their number is far smaller than its 4,000 Japanese clients.
The Japanese clients are often smaller in size than their European peers, Morimura said.
The bank's build out is unlikely to come through big acquisitions in Europe. But in asset management there "may be opportunities", Morimura said.
"In Europe we are investing in specific products," he said. "In businesses as a whole, no."
Morimura said the bank aimed to be a top five debt capital markets player in the region.
MUFG snapped up a $6.4 billion project financing loan book owned by Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS.L) in 2010. The group also bought a 10 percent stake in Britain's Aberdeen Asset Management close to four years ago.
As part of the push into project financing, the bank also took on several key RBS staff, and in the past year that team has more than doubled from about 35 people.
Project financing is one area French peers for instance, hit by funding wobbles last year, have been retreating from in recent months. Alongside corporate loans, this is one area rivals bankers say they have seen the Japanese bank making a big push. [ID:nL6E8C54BU] [ID:nL6E8CH330]
Morimura said the firm was eyeing Asia and the Middle East as key markets for this type of financing.
"We would like to contribute to creating infrastructure in emerging markets," he said.
In the United States, MUFG has been on an acquisition spree, this week buying Pacific Capital Bancorp PCBC.O. [ID:nL4E8EC5CF]
MUFG took a stake in Morgan Stanley (MS.N) at the height of the 2008 financial crisis, which now stands at 22.4 percent, and the firms work together to offer customers services in equities and advisory. Morimura said he was "happy" with the alliance.
(Reporting by Sarah White; Editing by Jon Loades-Carter)
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