CEE & Central West Asia: Best Chinese bank in the region for BRI 2017
State-owned ICBC and Bank of China have led the Chinese charge into central and eastern Europe. Both have already put large amounts of balance sheet to work in projects across the region, as well as laying the groundwork for a physical network along the New Silk Road.
It is ICBC that takes the award for the region this year, however, by virtue of its deepening commitment to Turkey – a key Belt and Road country – as well as its role as prime mover in the creation of a landmark fund for investment in CEE.
In 2014, ICBC became the first Chinese entity to buy a full-service retail and corporate bank in CEE when it purchased a controlling stake in Turkey’s Tekstilbank. Since then, the bank has become the leading provider of syndicated loans to Turkish entities, while in its first full year under new ownership, ICBC Turkey saw its loan book expand by 19%.
ICBC has also provided financing to borrowers in an array of strategic sectors in Belt and Road countries, including Russia, Kazakhstan, Poland and the Czech Republic over the last 12 months. In November, the bank went further, establishing the China-CEE Financial Holding Corporation and Fund, which has a mandate to support infrastructure and capacity cooperation along the New Silk Road.
Headed by long-standing former ICBC chairman Jiang Jianqing, the fund has an initial capitalization of €10 billion and a planned future capacity of €50 billion. It is expected to focus on investment opportunities that offer both high social impact and economic returns in sectors including transport and logistics, clean energy, high-tech manufacturing, medicine and healthcare, as well as food processing. China Life Insurance and Fosun Group are also involved in managing the fund.