China’s ICBC eyes more Southeast Asian acquisitions

BANGKOK (BestGrowthStock) – Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, the world’s most valuable lender, said on Wednesday it was looking for acquisitions in countries in Southeast Asia where now it has no presence.

“Southeast Asia is where we also focus on as it offers growth potential,” ICBC Chairman Jiang Jianqing told a news conference in Bangkok. “We are looking for opportunity in the region where ICBC has no operations.”

ICBC, which has 194 overseas branches and subsidiaries in 22 countries, now operates in five countries in Southeast Asia: Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and Vietnam.

In April, it completed the acquisition of a 97.24 percent stake of Thailand’s smallest lender, ACL Bank, for about $550 million.

The acquisition would be a platform for entering Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia, as ICBC expands its network in Southeast Asia’s fast-growing banking market, the bank said.

ICBC (Thai), which has about 71.5 billion baht ($2.41 billion) in assets, expected to expand its assets by 20 percent a year by focusing on retail businesses and expansion into Chinese firms in Thailand, ICBC (Thai) CEO Chen Youbin told reporters.

“We could be bigger than CIMB Thai over the next 3 to 5 years,” Chen said, referring to the Thai unit of Malaysia’s CIMB Group Holdings.

ICBC (Thai) also planned to increase the number of its branches to 30 over the next three years from 19, Chen said.

The bank planned to delist from Thailand’s stock exchange as its free float did not meet the minimum 15 percent requirement set by the stock exchange.

Asked if China’s ICBC wanted to buy more assets in Thailand, Jiang said: “The first priority is to make ICBC successful.”

At 0538 GMT, ICBC (Thai) shares were up 6.03 percent at 21.10 baht, while the main index was up 1.21 percent.

($1=29.72 baht)

(Reporting by Arada Kultawanich; Editing by Robert Birsel)

China’s ICBC eyes more Southeast Asian acquisitions