x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Asian lenders to become major global players

The Bank of China's moves to become more active in the US property sector are part of a wider trend for Chinese and other Asian banks to expand overseas.

The Bank of China's moves to become more active in the US property sector are part of a wider trend for Chinese and other Asian banks to expand overseas.

In London, they have made a major impact. Since the global economic downturn of 2008, about 300,000 square feet of additional office space around the Bank of England is estimated to have been snapped up by Chinese banks.

This is enough for them to triple their staff numbers in the UK capital to 1,600.

In New York, Bank of China has a thriving presence in the European debt and loan markets. The Industrial and Commercial Bank of China is also expanding in London.

"This is what [Chinese banks have] been looking for, not just for local banks but for state-owned enterprises, they want them to become global companies," says Ren Xianfang, an analyst with IHS Global Insight in Beijing. As the China's economy grows, she says its banks will slowly become "more globalised".

"That's going to happen, [but] probably just gradually. Chinese local banks have quite a long way to go to become global, not just in terms of practice, but in terms of their risk-control capabilities and their understanding of global practice," adds Ms Xianfang.

Ben Simpfendorfer, the managing director of the financial consultancy Silk Road Associates, echoes those views. "Chinese banks will primarily have Chinese customers, much like Korean and Japanese banks tend to have their own nationals," he says. "I don't think Chinese banks are ready to become big multinationals where they start to have foreign clients."

business@thenational.ae

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