Lenders to closely monitor property loans

08:31, August 27, 2010      

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State-owned Chinese banks on Thursday said they have not suspended lending to realtors, but would monitor such exposure closely to avoid future problems.

"Our lending exposure to the property sector is quite low. Lending to property developers, commercial properties and land reserves accounted for 8.4 percent of the bank's total lending by the end of June this year. And we have been able to control the pace of property loans in some cities that have seen abnormal price swings recently," said Yang Kaisheng, president of Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC).

The lending pace has declined in the Yangtze River Delta and Pearl River Delta regions, he said. The growth of property loans in these regions was 1.68 percent and 6.5 percent lower than the bank's overall lending pace, he said.

Bank of China (BOC), the nation's fourth-largest lender, also expressed similar views. "We have applied stricter standards for property loans to control the quality of such exposures," said Chen Siqing, vice-president, BOC. Both the banks, however, pledged to support the healthy development of the property market.

"We will continue to provide financial support for low-cost housing development. If property loans are totally suspended, housing supplies will shrink and prices will go up," said Chen.

Meanwhile, both the banks came out with strong earnings numbers for the first six months ending June this year.

ICBC reported a profit of 85 billion yuan ($12.5 billion) for the first half, up 27.3 percent from a year ago.

BOC said net profit rose 27 percent in the first half to 52.02 billion yuan, compared with 41 billion yuan a year ago.

Jiang Jianqing, chairman of ICBC, said the bank's asset quality withstood market fluctuations during the global financial crisis.

ICBC's bad loan ratio stood at 1.26 percent by the end of June, down from the 1.54 percent at the beginning of the year, while provisions for bad loans rose to 189.81 percent.

BOC's non-performing loan ratio for the first half stood at 1.2 percent, a 0.32 percent decline from the same period last year. Its provision coverage ratio for bad loans stood at 188.44 percent.

Yang said the regulator's new norms on off-balance sheet loans will have a limited impact on ICBC's capital base and profitability. The banks exposure to such loans is only around 80 billion yuan, he said.

"Given the bank's lending pace during the past few years, we are now well-positioned to absorb the exposure without any impact on the overall financial strength," Yang added.

BOC said nearly 41.4 billion yuan of its loans to trusts have to be transferred back to the books.

"The quality of such products is normal and it does not require provision coverage and hence will not have a major impact on our capital adequacy ratio," said BOC President Li Lihui.

Source: China Daily

(Editor:祁澍文)

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