BRANCH BANKING | Staff Reporter, China

Big Four bank ramps up overseas presence

Armed with ample cash, China’s second largest bank will now accelerate its overseas expansion.

China Construction Bank Corporation Chairman Wang Hongzhang said the bank intends to have a presence in the world's major countries within three years as part of longer-term plans to become a global financial institution. Wang said China's second-largest lender by assets will bankroll its worldwide expansion with its ample cash reserves.

"It's a natural choice for us to go overseas.” said Wang. "We plan to expand our network to include the major countries in the world by the end of 2015.

At a recent board meeting, directors of the bank approved a five-year expansion plan aimed at making the bank an international institution.

Over the past three years, CCB has maintained average annual growth of 31% for overseas assets, Wang said.

CCB has established offshore branches in Hong Kong, Tokyo, New York, Frankfurt, Seoul, Singapore, Ho Chi Minh City, Johannesburg and Sydney. The combined assets of its offshore branches were at US$70 billion in 2011.

He also noted that China's effort to boost the yuan's global influence has presented the bank with a good opportunity for overseas expansion, and is also an added new revenue source.

In recent years, China launched a series of measures, including allowing the yuan to be used in cross-border transactions, to boost the yuan's status as a global currency.

Wang, 58, became CCB chairman last January. He was previously the chief disciplinary officer at the People's Bank of China. He filled the vacancy left by CCB's former chairman Guo Shuqing, who was appointed chairman of the China Securities Regulatory Commission in October 2011.

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