Strategy

Chinese Bank to Raise Almost $15 Billion

A bond sale by Industrial & Commercial Bank of China, the world's largest bank, will shore up capital in the face of loan growth and an acquisition...
Stephen TaubAugust 22, 2008

Industrial & Commercial Bank of China is considering selling as much as $14.6 billion of bonds after domestic loan growth and overseas acquisitions reduced its capital, Bloomberg News reported.

The world’s largest bank plans to sell the subordinated debt in batches by 2011, according to the wire service, which cited a statement to the Shanghai Stock Exchange. ICBC is also the world’s most profitable bank: its earnings have doubled since 2005.

“The management is preparing for the rainy days and investment opportunities that may emerge abroad, which will easily exhaust capital,” Yuan Lin, a Beijing-based analyst at BOC International, told the wire service. “ICBC’s current capital position is ample to support the domestic growth.”

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Bloomberg did point out that ICBC’s capital adequacy ratio fell to 10.33 percent as of June 30, down from 12.23 percent at the end of last year. Still, on Thursday the bank said first-half earnings climbed to 64.5 billion yuan, noting that a focus on domestic lending helped it avoid the global credit crisis.

In the past year alone, the bank has shelled out more than $6 billion on acquisitions in Indonesia, Macau, and South Africa, tripling the share of profit coming from overseas. Last October it bought a 20 percent stake in South Africa’s Standard Bank Group Ltd. for $5.4 billion in what Bloomberg described as the biggest overseas acquisition by a Chinese bank.

The rapid growth of ICBC, which was founded in 1984 and went public in 2006, mirrors the explosion in China’s economy.

In 2007 the bank’s after-tax profits surged 65.9 percent. Since an international audit was introduced in 2003, ICBC’s after-tax profit compound annual growth rate has exceeded 38 percent, the bank notes on its Website.