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Huijin's rescue scheme for lenders draws to a close
By Liu Yiyu (China Daily)
Updated: 2009-09-29 08:19

Central Huijin Investment Ltd, the domestic arm of China's sovereign wealth-fund, has completed a rescue scheme to increase shareholdings in China's three largest banks, which was set in motion in the wake of the financial crash, according to the lenders.

But the retreat of the major stock rescuer would not likely drag down market sentiment and the market has pulled out of the worst, said analysts.

The Industrial & Commercial Bank of China (ICBC), Bank of China (BOC) and China Construction Bank (CCB) announced the conclusion of Huijin's year-long program over the weekend.

Huijin bought additional shares equivalent to 0.08 percent of ICBC, 0.03 percent of BOC and 0.06 percent of CCB's total share capital in the past twelve months ended Sep 22. It launched the rescue scheme on Sep 23 last year in a bid to bolster share prices that plummeted after the outbreak of the global financial crisis.

"There will not be much impact from Huijin's retreat as the additional stake-buy is fairly small," Li Xianming, analyst at Ping An Securities said. "The move (to increase shareholding) was a signal from the central government to support China's stock market and lift sentiment during the worst times."

Huijin is the largest shareholder of BOC and CCB, holding up to 67.53 percent and 57.08 percent of their stakes respectively. It also owns 35.41 percent of ICBC, up from 35.33 percent a year earlier.

"Huijin is likely to maintain its current position for some time in light of the market sentiment," said Yu Zuojie, market strategist at Shanghai Securities.

Shares of the Shanghai-listed ICBC have risen 18 percent, while BOC is up 4 percent and CCB 25 percent since Huijin increased its shareholdings in the three lenders. The Shanghai Composite Index rebounded 27 percent during the same period.

(China Daily 09/29/2009 page13)