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ICBC aims for bond issue to boost capital
( 2004-01-07 15:05) (Agencies)

Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC), the nation's biggest lender that was left out of a pilot programme to inject fresh funds into two state banks, said on Wednesday it was seeking approval to recapitalize by issuing subordinated bonds.

"We have plans to issue subordinated bonds to replenish capital, and we have submitted our application for approval," a bank spokesman said.

He declined to give the size of the planned bond issue, but bank president Jiang Jianqing said in 2001 that it aimed to issue "tens of billion yuan" in subordinated bonds to boost its capital adequacy ratio to meet the global standard of eight percent.

ICBC, which lost out to Bank of China (BOC) and China Construction Bank (CCB) in the bank bail-out announced on Tuesday, has to boost its capital if it wants to achieve its aim of a stock listing by 2006, analysts said.

The China Banking Regulatory Commission, the sector watchdog, issued rules in December allowing domestic banks, including state banks, to issue long-term bonds to recapitalize.

Fujian-based Industrial Bank became the first domestic bank to recapitalize in such way by issuing three billion yuan (US$362.5 million) in subordinated bonds in December.

The government said on Tuesday it had injected a total of US$45 billion into the Bank of China and Construction Bank to pave the way for restructuring and eventual stock listings.

Under the reform plan, the two banks, now wholly owned by the government, would bring in foreign and domestic investors to transform themselves into joint stock entities.

The Big Four banks, which also include Agricultural Bank of China, are saddled with bad debts that officially account for more than 20 per cent of total loans, but many Western analysts say the ratios are closer to 40 per cent.

website of China Banking Regulatory Commission: www.cbrc.gov.cn/english

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