CEE & Central West Asia: Best Regional Bank for BRI 2019
ICBC became the first Chinese bank to open a subsidiary in Vienna in May this year, to promote cooperation between China and Austria and serving as a gateway to central and eastern Europe (CEE).
The step shows ICBC’s deep and increasing commitment to the region, with its many key Belt and Road countries.
The Chinese lender already has branches in Poland and the Czech Republic, so the Austrian operation will focus on markets such as Hungary, Bulgaria, Slovenia, Serbia and Croatia.
It will also complement ICBC’s operations further east along the Belt and Road route, which include subsidiaries in Russia and Turkey, as well as a new representative office in the Kazakh capital Astana and a long-standing branch in Almaty.
ICBC has leveraged this extensive on-the-ground presence to establish a leading lending franchise across CEE and central and west Asia. In the last year, the bank was involved in 21 syndications across the combined region and disbursed a total of $1.2 billion, according to Dealogic, putting it well ahead of its Chinese rivals.
Turkey proved a particular focus, reflecting ICBC’s commercial banking presence in the country. The Chinese lender purchased a controlling stake in Tekstilbank in 2015 and now has 44 branches and 20 offices in 18 Turkish cities. In the 12 months to the end of May, ICBC Turkey provided financing to leading local financial institutions, including Akbank, Isbank and Yapi Kredi, as well as to public-sector entities.
ICBC also supported financial institutions in Russia and the Czech Republic. Other sectors in focus included telecoms, energy and chemicals across a range of jurisdictions from Poland and Hungary to Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan.