BRANCH BANKING | Staff Reporter, China

Big Four Chinese bank to open in Canada

Agricultural Bank of China continues its North American expansion.

State-owned Agricultural Bank of China, one of China’s Big Four banks, will open its first Canadian branch in Vancouver as part of a campaign to increase trade between China and North America. The Vancouver office will be its fifth overseas office.

The bank last week announced it would open a branch in New York this summer. This will be the bank’s first branch in the USA.

ABC held a celebration last week at the Vancouver Trade and Convention Centre to mark the bank's entry into Canada.

"This speaks to the way Vancouver is creeping up the ladder in terms of international recognition," said Ken Peacock, vice-president and chief economist at the Business Council of British Columbia.

He said the bank's arrival in Vancouver contributes to making Vancouver a more robust business centre to deal with Asia.

ABC is China's fourth largest bank with more than 23,000 domestic branches. It has overseas branches in Hong Kong, Singapore and Seoul and four overseas offices in Sydney, Tokyo, Frankfurt and New York.

The bank is ranked No. 127 in the Fortune Global 500 and is ranked No. 7 in The Banker's Top 1000 World Banks list. ABC's net earnings in 2011 were $19.5 billion, three times the 2011 net earnings of $6.7 billion at Canada's largest bank, the Royal Bank of Canada.

Other Chinese banks operating in Canada include the Bank of China and the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, both Big Four banks.

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