Businessman aims to blaze banking trail
Updated: 2012-06-08 09:43
By Yu Ran in Shanghai (China Daily)
Hoping to help cash-strapped small and medium-sized enterprises in Wenzhou, Zhejiang province, Yang Jiaxing has applied for regulators' permission to launch a private bank.
Yang, 67, who founded the first private shareholding urban credit cooperative in Wenzhou more than a decade ago, is trying to recruit enough SMEs to participate in the project before submitting more detailed plans to the Wenzhou branch of the China Banking Regulatory Commission.
"We're still discussing with potential shareholders of the bank and certain SME-related associations to ensure that we can launch the bank as soon as possible after the draft plan is approved," said Yang.
Under Yang's plan, submitted last week, the bank's capital will be at least 1 billion yuan ($158 million), which will be contributed by local enterprises.
The goal is to ease the burden of SMEs in the city by providing credit at rates below those of bank loans, and "provide more options for SMEs to survive hard times", said Yang.
Wenzhou, a large center of private capital in China, was selected by national authorities for the pilot project at the end of March.
The move followed a wave of debt defaults by local entrepreneurs, some of whom fled the city after State-owned banks suddenly curbed credit to SMEs starting in September.
During the credit crisis, about 100 businessmen in the city were reported to have disappeared, declared bankruptcy or even committed suicide, with related debts exceeding 10 billion yuan.
Under a 12-point plan, Wenzhou is to develop privately owned financial services, establish village banks and rural financial agencies and encourage State-owned banks to lend to smaller businesses.
Setting up a clearinghouse for private lending is another major task.
"We want to follow the model of a village bank, which is permitted under the Wenzhou pilot project, to launch a private bank in the city that will provide lower-interest loans to SMEs," said Yang.
This isn't the first time that Wenzhou entrepreneurs have sought to run a private bank.
Several enterprises in Wenzhou submitted proposals to launch private banks in 2001, 2006 and 2010, received no response from the authorities.
"Hopefully, Yang's plan will be accepted during the pilot project period," said Zhou Dewen, chairman of the Wenzhou Small and Medium-sized Enterprises Development Association.
Zhou added that although it is difficult to launch and run a private bank, the plan will open a new route for SMEs to get financial services.
Zhou has encouraged SMEs in the association to participate in the project.
"The main problem is that it's too expensive to borrow for SMEs. The launch of a private bank will lower interest rates to reboot the real economy," said Zheng Chen'ai, the president of Zhejiang Aobenni Garment (Group) Co Ltd and the chairman of the Wenzhou Chamber of Clothing Commerce.
Zheng added that he is very interested in the project and would like to get involved.
For SME owners, this all comes as welcome news.
"The launch of a private bank will enable us to receive direct financial support, which will get us out of this miserable situation as soon as possible," said Zhang Rui, the owner of Wenzhou Chuangsi Optical Spectacles Co Ltd.