ICBC mulling Korea entry as gateway

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ICBC mulling Korea entry as gateway

The Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC), the world’s largest lender in terms of listed stock value, is considering expanding into Korea, sources said yesterday.

According to sources at the Financial Services Commission (FSC), ICBC President Yang Kaisheng said the bank wants to increase investment and expand the number of offices in the country.

The president made the remarks when he met with FSC Chairman Kim Seok-dong last October.

“Yang stressed that the Chinese bank ranked first in the world and had the resources to make [a huge] investment in the Korean market,” an official said. He added that the ICBC chief executive sees Korea as a springboard to make inroads into larger overseas markets.

“The president praised the country’s excellent human resources and overall financial infrastructure,” said the official, who declined to be identified.

The ICBC opened its Seoul office in 1997 and has provided loans and credit as well as engaging in bonds investments. It was once heavily engaged in corporate banking but has started to pay greater attention to retail financing.

Additionally, industry sources said ICBC is engaged in talks with Kookmin Bank. Talks with Kookmin are centered around setting up credit card operations and automatic teller machine operations.

Other insiders have speculated that the lender may be interested in buying up local financial institutions, possibly including Korea Exchange Bank.

In 2011, ICBC acquired an 80 percent stake in Argentina’s Standard Bank Group for $600 million as part of efforts to expand its global market presence.


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