ICBC Middle East reports profit jump in 2011

Updated: 2012-01-04 16:35


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DUBAI - The Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) Middle East, a unit of the country's biggest bank by market value, profit and deposit, registered a sharp increase in its total assets and profits in 2011 despite the political turbulence in the Middle East and North Africa.

The total assets of the ICBC ME tripled from nearly $1.28 billion at the end of 2010 to reach $3.86 billion at the end of November 2011. The volume was nearly 50 times as much as the $80 million assets in 2008 when the ICBC ME was established in Dubai, said Tian Zhiping, general manager of the ICBC ME operations, in an interview with Xinhua.

The profits reach $31.77 million in the first 11 months of 2011, more than doubling the figure at the end of 2010, Tian said.

"There are little impacts of the regional unrest on the business of the ICBC ME as the bank has made a prudent strategy to launch business in the MENA region," Tian said.

All the on-balance credit exposure is located in China and GCC countries including Qatar, Kuwait, UAE and Saudi Arabia, without any assets distributed in unstable regions. Most of the off- balance-sheet facilities are guaranteed by other Chinese commercial banks, he explained.

ICBC ME has established a first-class marketing department, responsive risk management department and mature enterprise risk management system, he said, adding that the bank does not only assess risks at the stage of marketing, but also takes assorted management methods to monitor the risks during the transaction and post loan management. Meanwhile, the bank has also developed IT system to assist risk management.

In the past three years, the ICBC ME formed a chain in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Doha, mainly focusing on the commercial banking business. Tian said the bank may broaden its range of business in the future to investment banking and asset management services, funding regional clients to explore investment opportunities in China.

Based on the principles of providing legal, high quality and convenient ICBC products and services to the residents of the UAE and to ensure order within the financial markets, ICBC ME has submitted an application to the Central Bank of UAE for a retail banking license.

"Currently, ICBC Middle East is in the process of providing additional information and documentation to the Central Bank of UAE. Through the combined efforts of the Middle East team, we are hopeful to obtain the retail banking license in the near future," Tian said.

In March 2011, ICBC launched its Cross-Border Renminbi (RMB) Trade Settlement business in the Middle East which is also accelerating the growth of the bank. With the trend of RMB appreciation, the ICBC ME is willing to cooperate with local financial institutions and local clients interested in RMB investment, Tian said.

Given the increasing trade volume between China and the GCC counties, ICBC ME is also ready to provide financial products, such as RMB exchange, RMB Letter of Credit, to the clients who have businesses with China in the fields of contracting, foreign trade and services as well as manufacturing, he said.