Bank of China (BOC), the nation's second largest lender, derives nearly 40 percent of its net profits from overseas operations, a senior executive said Wednesday.
Zhang Yanling, deputy governor of BOC, told Xinhua in an interview that China's oldest bank has "become a big international bank", with 669 outlets in 28 countries and regions.
Commercial banking, investment banking, insurance and investments are major contributors to overseas profits, said Zhang.
Net profit for the first nine months of 2007 hit 45.5 billion yuan (6.1 billion U.S. dollars) under international accounting standards, up from 32.5 billion yuan a year earlier.
In the past year, BOC continued its worldwide expansion. One facet of this expansion was the 100 percent acquisition of Asia's largest aircraft leasing firm, SALE, which is part of the bank's diversification strategy, said Zhang.
Last month, the bank opened a British subsidiary with registered capital of 200 million pounds to offer personal and corporate banking in Europe. The London branch, established in 1929 as China's first overseas banking outlet, will continue its wholesale banking business.
"Bank of China aims to become a world-class bank," said Zhang. "It will take advantage of China's booming economy to consolidate the domestic market and in the meantime expand its international business to maintain the lead over other Chinese banks in the global network", she said.
"One of our key markets overseas is Europe, where the economy is well developed and the financial market is mature," said Zhang. He added that the new U.K. subsidiary would help the bank's competitive edge in Europe.
In July 2006, BOC became the first state-owned Chinese bank to launch initial public offerings in Shanghai and in Hong Kong. It was the world's fifth-largest bank by market capitalization by the end of last year.
The Royal Bank of Scotland holds a 10-percent stake in the bank.