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ICBC to Open Subsidiary Bank in US

The Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) has planned to open a subsidiary in the United States, as part of its going-global strategy which also involves Russia, Indonesia and the Middle East, Board Chairman Jiang Jianqing said here on Wednesday.

"Preparations have been going on smoothly. We hope to receive approval from American authorities as early as possible," said Jiang, a delegate to the ongoing 17th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, at a news briefing.

Jiang said that next month the ICBC would open a branch in Russia and take over the Bank Halim in Indonesia. Applications to set up new branches in Dubai and Doha have been approved by the banking authorities of China, paving the way for its march into the emerging Middle East market.

In its latest overseas expansion, the ICBC clinched an agreement with Seng Heng Bank Limited on August 29 to acquire a stake of nearly 80 percent of the bank in Macao for 4.683 billion patacas (US$585 million), according to the bank's website.

Jiang said that the ICBC would "cautiously" advance its going- global strategy. "Only when the price, opportunity and place are right will we make a move."

The bank has established more than 100 branches so far in 13 countries and regions, mainly through greenfield investment, merger and acquisition. But overseas business only contributed three percent of its total assets and four percent of its profits. The ICBC hopes to raise the proportion to 10 percent in the future, Jiang said.

Domestically, the ICBC has more than 16,800 outlets.

With a total asset of over US$930 billion, the ICBC has been named as the second largest bank of Asia and the most profitable bank with a net profit of over US$6 billion, according to a listing of HK Asia Week of "Top 300 Asia Bank".

Apart from expanding its global presence, the bank has been engaged in financial innovations at home. In September, China's banking regulator approved the bank to set up a leading company with a registered capital of 2 billion yuan (US$265.96 million), the largest of its kind in the Binhai New Area of Tianjin, which will help improve the bank's performance by shifting its profits from interest income to intermediary services.

Jiang said the bank's non-performing ratio would be hopefully kept under three percent this year, much lower than the industry's average of eight percent. Bad loan ratio in term of real estate property stood at 1.4 percent in the first half.

(Xinhua News Agency October 18, 2007)

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