GERMANY - Euroclear is opening an office in Frankfurt to challenge arch-rival Clearstream more oprenly on its home turf.

Brussels-based Euroclear said its Frankfurt office, initially to be staffed by four, would be opened in the next few weeks.

The office will be headed by Katherine Starks, who was formerly a German sales director for GL Trade, a provider of trading and order software.

"The opening of an office in Frankfurt underscores Euroclear's belief in the continued growth of business opportunities in Europe's largest economy," noted Yannic Weber, head of Euroclear's commercial division.

"As we already settle the majority of cross-border transactions in German government bonds, we look forward to expanding our client base across even more products," Weber added.

The other major provider of clearing and settlement services for financial exchanges in Germany is Clearstream, which is owned by Deutsche Börse, the operator of Frankfurt's exchange.

Euroclear's move into Germany comes just a week after Clearstream said it was expanding its Asian presence by opening branches in Singapore and Tokyo. Prior to the move, Clearstream's Asian presence was limited to Dubai and Hong Kong.

For its part, Euroclear offers clearing and settlement in Asia from offices in Hong Kong, Singapore and Tokyo.

Euroclear says it is the world's largest provider of settlement services for bond, equity and fund transactions, with a total annual volume of €450trn.

The value of assets it holds for clients exceeds €18bn, or roughly twice that for Luxembourg-based Clearstream.