RETAIL BANKING | Cesar Tordesillas, Hong Kong

BEA forges collaboration with Criteria and “la Caixa”

BEA has concluded a series of business cooperation agreements with Criteria CaixaCorp and Caja de Ahorros y Pensiones de Barcelona.

The signing of these agreements will greatly enhance the already strong business links between the two leading groups, and enable the Bank of East Asia to further leverage its strategic position in the region, in particular in the Chinese Mainland banking market.

Under the Strategic Collaboration Agreement among BEA; Criteria, the largest single shareholder of the Bank; and Caja de Ahorros y Pensiones de Barcelona or “la Caixa,” the controlling shareholder of Criteria, BEA will be Criteria’s preferred partner for expansion in the Asia-Pacific region.

Criteria anticipates that trade ties with China will continue to expand in the future, and it sees BEA’s strong presence in major cities throughout the Mainland as a significant advantage. Criteria looks forward to channeling an increasing number of significant business opportunities to BEA as a result of this agreement. In parallel, the Bank will gain privileged access to Criteria’s extensive platform in Spain, Europe, and Latin America.

BEA and ”la Caixa” have agreed to cooperate and assist each other in the development of banking services and products that are mutually beneficial to them. The agreement contemplates that BEA, ”la Caixa” and Criteria shall establish a steering committee which shall be responsible for the supervision and follow-up of the strategic collaboration among them.

BEA and Criteria have also concluded a Strategic Investment Agreement, which defines the framework and conditions on which any future changes in Criteria's ownership interest in the Bank would be effected.

Under the agreement, Criteria provided a number of undertakings to BEA that demonstrate the strategic and cooperative nature of its investments in the Bank, and its ongoing support for the Bank’s continued independence.

As part of the Strategic Investment Agreement, Criteria has agreed that the Criteria Group will not increase its shareholding to more than 12.5 percent of the Bank’s issued shares without the agreement of the Bank, and will not, in any event, hold interests in more than 20 percent of BEA's issued shares. In addition, the two sides have signed a Letter of Intent to co-operate in forging new ways to enhance their commitment to the people they serve.

Through this new collaboration, the ”la Caixa” Foundation and The Bank of East Asia Charitable Foundation Limited will strengthen their work in this area and explore opportunities to develop new initiatives.

Dr. David K.P. Li, Chairman of the BEA, said: "We see a like-minded company in Criteria, as our management and theirs share a common desire to add value in respect of the clients we serve, and to the communities in which we operate."

"These new agreements pave the way for the further strategic and successful development of our relationship," said Dr. Isidro Fainé Casas, Chairman of Criteria. Dr. Fainé was appointed a Non-executive Director of BEA.

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