By Eric Min
Chinese banks like Industrial & Commercial Bank of China Ltd. (ICBC, 601398.SH, 1398.HK) are expanding in Australia’s syndicated-loan market, seeking to replace debt-laden European lenders as they retrench in the Pacific nation, according to the Wall Street Journal.
According to data from Bank of America Merrill Lynch, about 4 percent of the syndicated-loan market has shifted to Asian banks -- mainly Chinese and Japanese -- from European banks in the past year, accounting for about 21 percent of new issuance in Australia so far this year.
"Australia is definitely an important market for us," said Han Ruixiang, the head of Australian operations for ICBC, "We are now growing more our bilateral relations, lending directly to corporate customers."
ICBC, the world's largest lender by market value, is 70 percent owned by the Chinese government, with $2.5 trillion in assets, compared with $2.3 trillion in assets for the largest U.S. bank, J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. The bank hopes to more than double the share of profits coming from overseas operations in the next five years, to 10 percent, from the current 4 percent. The drive to the Australian market is part of the whole plan.
China is already Australia's largest trading partner, but now Chinese banks see an opportunity to build their presence in a market historically dominated by local and European rivals.
"We have a strong interest in resource deals but we're not focusing only on them; as a commercial bank we lend across the board," said Han.
Up to the end of April, ICBC's gross Australian loans and advances totaled A$859 million (US$860 million), up almost a third from a year ago, according to data from the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority, or APRA. Mr. Han said that ICBC plans to stay in the market for corporate banking, rather than competing with Australia's dominant domestic retail banks.
The euro has been supported as European banks sold off overseas businesses to pay off losses since the crisis began. The buyers were mostly Asian banks and now they are using their new businesses, and well-capitalized old businesses, to compete with the remaining western firms, forexlive.com said.