China’s biggest bank sells stake

01 Sep

Keynes of China' Li Yining China's most famous economist - China's biggest bank

“Keynes of China’ Li Yining China’s most famous economist

China’s biggest lender, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC), is selling a 10% stake to Goldman Sachs, Allianz and American Express.

The deal, said to be worth more than $3bn (£1.7bn), is just the latest example of Western financial houses investing in Chinese banks.

Bank of America and Royal Bank of Scotland are two other firms who have recently bought into Chinese lenders.

China’s biggest banks are attractive due to the strong growth of the Chinese economy.

Overseas banks are also being wooed by the growing number of Chinese financial houses seeking to float on Western stock exchanges, which can offer a quick return on investments.

In return, the Chinese banks benefit from additional capital and improved management.

Differing stakes

“The MOU [Memorandum of Understanding] was signed yesterday morning, and Goldman has the largest share,” said an ICBC official.

“The deal isn’t formalized, but I don’t think it will change much.”

Analysts estimate Goldman Sach’s stake in ICBC to be worth about $1.6bn, with Allianz on $1bn, and American Express between $200m and $300m.

Two weeks ago the Royal Bank of Scotland announced it was investing $1.6bn to lead a consortium buying a 10% stake in Bank of China for $3.1bn.

Bank of China is the country’s second biggest lender.

Vast sector

In June, Bank of America paid £3bn for a 9% stake in China Construction Bank.

Beijing is preparing to fully open its banking sector to foreign competition in 2006, as a precondition to its admission to the World Trade Organization (WTO).

At present foreign companies can hold just 25% of a Chinese bank’s shares, with an individual overseas firm limited to owning a 19.9% stake.

The Chinese banking sector is estimated to contain $1.5 trillion in personal savings.

Source: BBC NEWS:

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