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ABC Denies Report of US$50 Bln Capital Injection

The Agricultural Bank of China (ABC), the only unlisted lender among China's four major state-owned commercial banks, said on Sunday that media reports involving a capital injection were unfounded.

Bank spokesman Zhou Qingyu said reports that Central Huijin -- a government-sponsored investment company -- would inject US$45 billion to US$50 billion into the bank by April were untrue. "The statement is not accurate, and it misleads readers."

He added ABC's reform and listing plan were still under discussion, and before it becomes public, "any information not released by state authorities or the bank itself is unfounded".

Chen Xiwen, head of the Office of the Central Leading Group on Rural Work, said the exact amount needed for the restructuring was to be determined after governmental approval on Friday at a press conference.

Bank president Xiang Junbo told the lender's 2008 work conference late last month it was striving to become a large public commercial bank in about three years.

In response to reports saying the bank plans to get listed in 2010, Zhou said the bank would go public "at an appropriate time" after it finishes the financial restructuring, as well as incorporation, and introduces strategic investors. "It could be any time in the next three years."

ABC reported a profit of 96 billion yuan (about US$13.3 billion) last year, up 64 percent from 2006.

In 2007, the bank's deposit business increased 549.7 billion yuan, while its loan business increased 330.4 billion yuan. It also cleared 57.4 billion yuan in bad loans.

(Xinhua News Agency February 4, 2008)

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