Lender bets on global growth in changing world of finance

Updated: 2015-04-13 15:12

By Jiang Xueqing(China Daily)

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Editor's Note: An increasing number of Chinese companies are emerging on the world stage as they strive to establish their brands outside the country. This report, the eighth in the series, is by Jiang Xueqing.

As Chinese companies assume a more prominent role on the global business stage, Bank of China Ltd is following and supporting them.

The State-backed lender sees the overseas market as a major battlefield, and that part of its business has been expanding at a record pace. Its pre-tax profits from overseas operations were up 29.9 percent last year to $8.66 billion, or 23 percent of the total for the lender, up 3.6 percentage points from the previous year.

Tian Guoli, chairman of the nation's fourth-largest lender by assets, said: "Huge and profound changes are happening in the operating environment for Chinese banks. The global economic recovery has not gone smoothly; meanwhile, China is now in a 'new normal' era of slower but sustainable growth."

Despite increasing risks and difficulties, there are strategic opportunities for Chinese banks. With the implementation of the "One Belt, One Road" initiatives, a possible free trade area for the Asia-Pacific region and the acceleration of renminbi internationalization, a new market space will open up for cross-border financing, he said.

"There are historic opportunities for the Chinese banking sector to join the global competition and remake the world's financial structure," Tian said.

As of March 31, the bank had a presence in 42 countries and regions. These offices are expanding their market influence, with many directly signing or helping the home office sign agreements with major clients, including the London Stock Exchange Group Plc.

The bank's overseas units are cooperating with the world's 500 largest companies by revenue and providing cross-border financing to Chinese companies' overseas acquisitions.

As of Dec 31, Bank of China had committed $121.9 billion to support domestic companies going global.

Chen Siqing, its president, said the bank will use its worldwide network to help clients as they expand around the world.

"Bank of China will follow national strategies closely, enhance its international operations and try to become the 'financial arteries' of the 'One Belt, One Road' initiatives, as well as the first choice for business related to free trade zones," Chen said.

As of March 26, the bank had institutions in 16 countries along the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road.

The lender will also consolidate its status as the main channel for the yuan's internationalization, he said.

Its services go well beyond commercial and investment banking, including insurance and aircraft leasing.

Last year, its cross-border renminbi settlements reached 5.32 trillion yuan ($856.9 billion), up 34 percent from the previous year, and cross-border renminbi clearing surged 86.6 percent to 240.8 trillion yuan. The People's Bank of China, the central bank, has so far designated Bank of China as a yuan-clearing bank in seven countries and regions.

The bank has promoted the development of the offshore renminbi market by offering a diverse range of investable products for overseas local markets and issuing so-called dim sum bonds, including an issue of 2.5 billion yuan in London, one of 2 billion yuan in Sydney and one of 1.5 billion yuan in Luxembourg.

Contact the writer at jiangxueqing@chinadaily.com.cn

 Lender bets on global growth in changing world of finance

Bank of China Ltd launches its renminbi clearing center in Paris in December 2014. The bank has a presence in 42 countries and regions.Provided To China Daily

(China Daily USA 04/13/2015 page13)