A-listing aspirations for BEA firm up

2007-12-27 21:57:00 Shanghai Daily

THE Bank of East Asia (BEA) wants to become the first overseas institution to be listed on the A-share market, a senior banker said yesterday in Nanjing.

It is yet to be decided whether to list the Bank of East Asia Ltd as a whole group or as the Bank of East Asia (China) Ltd, its local incorporation on the Chinese mainland in the A-share market, said Chan Kay-cheung, vice chairman of BEA China, yesterday.

"The bank has been in talks with the Shanghai Stock Exchange and regulators for the listing move, and we set up a team to run the work," Chan said.

China has agreed to let "qualified" foreign companies float their shares on the mainland, according to a joint statement issued after the China-US Strategic Economic Dialogue concluded in Beijing earlier this month.

The bank flagged its interest to regulators 12 years ago, seeking a listing through the form of Chinese Depositary Receipt.

The bank expects to issue yuan-backed bank cards as early as the first half of next year. The card, to join the China UnionPay network, can help the bank attract more clients.

The bank is awaiting the People's Bank of China, or the central bank, to make the offer. The China Banking Regulatory Commission said earlier this month it would allow five overseas banks, Citigroup, HSBC, Standard Chartered, Hang Seng Bank and BEA, to issue credit and debit cards in yuan for the first time once they meet "technical" standards.

The Chinese mainland business will be BEA's focus in five to 10 years. The bank expects to open about 10 to 20 outlets on the Chinese mainland annually to expand network besides adding headcount and product line, Chan said.

The bank is scheduled to open a branch in Nanjing today to expand its foothold in the affluent Jiangsu Province.

The Hong Kong-listed bank was set up in Hong Kong in 1918.