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ICBC transforms into joint-stock company
Updated: 2005-10-28 13:41

China's biggest state-owned bank on Friday transformed into a joint-stock company, a step closer toward its planned market listing.

The new company, assuming all business and relevant assets and debts of the former Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC), was inaugurated with a register capital of 248 billion yuan (30.6 billion US dollars).

It was sponsored by the Ministry of Finance and Central Huijin Investment Co. Ltd., a central government investment arm that supports China's aggressive financial reform.

Boards of directors, supervisors and senior management have been set up for the bank. "Standard corporate governance has taken initial shape," the bank said in a statement.

China is overhauling its Big Four state banks, which also include China Construction Bank (CCB), Bank of China (BOC) and Agricultural Bank of China (ABC), before it fully opens its banking industry to foreign competition by late 2006 under commitments made as a part of its entry into the World Trade Organization.

The Chinese banks are expected to streamline their operation and become "commercial banks in a real sense" as required by the government, by establishing shareholding systems, inviting strategic foreign investors and then going public.

CCB made its debut on Thursday on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, while Vice President Yang Kaisheng of the ICBC revealed earlier that the country's biggest bank, assets-wise, would hopefully sell shares at an "appropriate time" next year.

The ICBC boasts more than 21,000 business outlets in China's mainland, serving more than 8 million enterprises and more than 100 million individual clients.

Its capital adequacy ratio, or a measure of its available capital in proportion to its outstanding loans, rose to 9.12 percent at the end of June, already above the 8 percent requirement by the international standard. Its non-performing loan ratio stood at 2.72 percent.

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