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"Golden opportunity" for Chinese lenders in U.S. (4)


08:29, August 01, 2012

In October 2010, ICBC bought the US broker-dealer operations of Fortis Securities from the France-based BNP Paribas SA. ICBC paid a token $1 for Fortis, which BNP acquired as part of its crisis-fueled 2009 purchase of Fortis Bank of Belgium. The unit, though small, overlapped with the French bank's existing US broker operations.

"When ICBC submitted its application to the Fed, it already had a good track record in the US," Zou said. "For other Chinese banks that aim to expand in the US, a careful expansion plan will be helpful."

The Fed has also decided to allow the Agricultural Bank of China to build a New York office. And Bank of China, which has branches in New York and Los Angeles, was allowed to build a third branch in Chicago.

In Maryland, the state's Department of Business and Economic Development is expecting the arrival this fall of the Export-Import Bank of China, whose first US office will be established in the World Trade Center building along Baltimore's Inner Harbor.

State officials said they have been in talks with their Chinese counterparts since fall 2011, when Governor Martin O'Malley reached out to Li Ruogu, chairman of the bank.

The Export-Import Bank said in a statement that its Baltimore office will concentrate on developing its business, evaluating projects and building relationships within the US market while it considers providing financing to Chinese companies that are trying to invest in the US.

"Establishing a presence in Maryland will yield mutual benefits for both parties and will help to add jobs and increase trade and investment," said Zhu Xinqiang, vice-president of the bank.

"With China having one of the world's fastest-growing economies, it is critical that we move forward now to explore new opportunities for trade and investment, particularly in our shared strengths of science and technology," O'Malley said.

In San Francisco, the home builder Lennar Corp and its partners are in talks with China Development Bank about obtaining $1.7 billion in capital to accelerate the development of the long-delayed Treasure Island and Hunters Point Shipyard-Candlestick Point housing complexes.

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