13/07/2017 - 12:42

Third Chinese bank opens Perth branch

13/07/2017 - 12:42

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China Construction Bank has become the third Chinese banking group to establish a presence in Perth, and those managing its operations are planning to make a larger impact than the competition.

Third Chinese bank opens Perth branch
Corporate and institutional banking directors Vincent Wen (left) and Gene Lilly lead CCB’s Perth operation. Photo: Attila Csaszar

China Construction Bank has become the third Chinese banking group to establish a presence in Perth, and those managing its operations are planning to make a larger impact than the competition.

CCB, which counts Roy Hill Holdings and Woodside Petroleum among its clients, officially opened its Perth branch last month, joining Bank of China and Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, which already have a presence in Western Australia.

They are among 10 foreign banks to have established branches in Perth (see list), with these foreign players servicing a range of businesses.

While US-based Citibank and Hong Kong-based HSBC have a broad offering that includes retail-banking services, and Dutch group Rabobank specialises in agribusiness, the other foreign banks have mostly targeted the big end of town.

CCB director corporate and institutional banking Vincent Wen said corporate banking and trade finance would be a major focus, but the bank would not necessarily just be servicing companies with a Chinese link.

“CCB wants to be considered an integral player in the Chinese and Australian corporate finance markets in Perth,” Mr Wen told Business News.

This point was reinforced by his fellow corporate banking director Gene Lilly, who includes time as WA state manager at HSBC among his past experience.

“The bank will leverage links with Chinese businesses in Australia, to continue fostering bilateral business and ties, but we’re actively looking at non-Chinese businesses as well.”

CCB’s branch opening comes after a period of rapid growth for the bank, which more than doubled its Australian assets to $A37.9 billion over the course of 2016, led by expansion of trade finance.

Its corporate banking profile was boosted by the 2015 purchase of Royal Bank of Scotland’s Australian loan book.

CCB’s services also include treasury operations, foreign exchange, and personal banking for high net worth individuals.

The bank has more than 100 staff across its four Australian branches, including over 80 in Sydney, where it opened in 2010.

The Perth branch is starting with five staff, led by Messrs Wen and Lilly.

CCB’s market position is shown by its role as a mandated lead arranger for loan facilities for the likes of Telstra, Port of Melbourne, Origin Energy, Asciano, White Rock wind farm and Pacific Hydro, which was bought by China’s State Power Investment Corporation.

Other customers include Wesfarmers and base metals miner Perilya, which since 2013 has been wholly owned by Shenzhen Zhongjin Lingnan Nonfemet Co, China’s third largest zinc producer.

The bank has recently streamlined its credit approval process to speed up decision-making.

Chief risk officer Liao Lin said Australia was one of China Constructions Bank’s most important target markets.

“The establishment of the Perth branch reinforces our commitment to this market and creates new opportunities for us to assist our business partners to expand globally,” Mr Liao said at the branch’s official opening.

CCB was founded in 1954 and its shares are listed on the Hong Kong and Shanghai stock exchanges.

As one of China’s largest commercial banks, it has total assets of $A4.1 trillion.

CCB has promoted an international development strategy in recent years, and is represented in 29 countries.

Bank of China has operated in Australia for more than 20 years and has 10 branches, including five in Sydney and one in Perth.

ICBC opened its Perth branch in 2011 and last year opened a fourth Australian branch in Brisbane.

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