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New Silk Road Finance Awards

Overall: Best bank for advising Chinese institutions on BRI 2020

Industrial and Commercial Bank of China

Despite being nicknamed ‘bank of the universe’ by Chinese bankers because of its sheer size and wide client reach onshore, ICBC has a surprising reputation for being low key. Its belt-and-road effort is no exception. The bank has made little attempt to market itself as a BRI bank but by the end of June this year, ICBC had supported more than 400 BRI projects and provided more than $100 billion of loans.

ICBC is one of the most efficient banks when it comes to getting internal approvals for BRI projects. The Chinese bank has established a dedicated BRI funding department, led by general manager Liu Jianchang – global finance department – at the headquarters level. That has put ICBC ahead, among the big four banks, regarding the speed of granting internal approvals to projects, saving clients time.

Liu Jianchang, General Manager of Global Finance Department, ICBC.jpg
Liu Jianchang, ICBC

The department has more than 130 bankers and over 10 business segments, each specializing in funding for one or several industries.

When structuring and conducting BRI trades, the bank’s BRI funding department coordinates ICBC’s branches in 49 countries and regions to provide a one-stop service.

Many BRI projects are in high-risk or less-developed countries. Therefore many international banks tend to have very limited funding capability. Not ICBC. Thanks to its sheer size, the bank has the ability to provide large loans, as well as longer tenors. ICBC has offered multiple loans of up to 20 years, longer than most of its international peers.

ICBC completed a series of BRI project financing during the awards period. The bank just successfully closed a $1.8 billion lending effort for the second phase of a copper-cobalt ore project in the Democratic Republic of the Congo this March. The project will be developed by a consortium of Chinese companies.

It also won a mandate as the financial adviser for a large mining and infrastructure project in Africa this year following a global bidding process.

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