Robust Q3 profit propels ICBC foray into insurance

08:55, November 01, 2010      

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Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC), the world's most valuable lender, joined rivals in posting robust earnings on strong loans growth, giving a boost to its planned multi-billion dollar fundraising.

The Beijing-based lender also said it will pay $180 million to buy control of French insurer AXA's Chinese joint venture, expanding into the country's fast-growing, $100 billion life insurance market seeking to challenge such established giants as China Life.

The move is part of a broader industry trend by China's financial services firms to expand into each others' businesses as they seek new revenues and try to become more diversified.

ICBC's 27 percent jump in third-quarter earnings, which were in line with market forecasts, bode well for the lender's planned $6.6 billion rights issue, and could help further lift investor sentiment towards a sector recovering from concerns over asset quality.

Rivals Agricultural Bank of China and Bank of China both posted better-than-expected quarterly profits on Wednesday.

"Like other lenders, ICBC's profit is being driven by rapid asset expansion and recovering net interest margins, while asset quality continues to improve," said Ye Yunyan, Beijing-based analyst at Galaxy Securities.

"Buying a small insurer won't have any immediate impact on ICBC's bottomline, but it's a strategic step toward the lender's goal of becoming a financial conglomerate."

Source: Global Times


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