The Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) has officially opened its first representative office in Africa, aimed at deepening the ties between China and Africa.
The office, situated in Cape Town, will focus on strengthening strategic co-operation between ICBC and Standard Bank Group, deepening the understanding of the African markets as well as facilitating economic development and trade between China and Africa by leveraging the world-class IT platform of the ICBC group.
Speaking at the official inauguration of the representative office, Mr Jiang Jianqing, Chairman and Executive Director of ICBC, said the strategic positioning and growth potential of Africa in the long run has always been a focus of ICBC. ICBC became the largest single shareholder of the Standard Bank Group in 2008 after a R36.7-billion investment, giving it a 20% shareholding in Standard Bank Group.
"Being an important gateway of Africa to the world and a member of the BRICS, the Republic of South Africa is recognised as a model of the fast-growing economies in Africa. ICBC's decision to open a representative office in South Africa reflects the strong belief we have in Africa, as well as the importance of the China-Africa strategic partnership," said Mr Jiang.
Standard Bank Group Chief Executive Jacko Maree welcomed the opening of the ICBC representative office. "ICBC's purchase of a 20% stake in Standard Bank was the largest Chinese investment in Africa and signalled ICBC's clear commitment to Africa. We are working closely with ICBC to identify new business opportunities across the continent."
"Across the African continent, from the construction of the largest coal-fuelled power station in Botswana, to the syndicated loan to Ghana COCOBOD; from the Angola Social Housing Constructions Site to the Nigeria expressway, staff of the two banks are working together on the frontlines," said Chairman Jiang.
By the end of September 2011, the two banks had been involved in over 110 cooperative projects, covering multiple areas such as corporate business, settlement and cash management, IT, money market and risk management. The cooperation brought not only a good return on investment, but also a deeper understanding of the African market for ICBC. The total amount of financing agreements signed by ICBC was over USD7-billion, making ICBC one of the most influential Chinese financial institutions in Africa
Powered by the global network and the world's leading IT platform of the ICBC group, the ICBC African representative office aims to provide corporate and individual clients with state-of-art financial services through close collaboration with Standard Bank's sophisticated franchise across Africa.
China and Africa have enjoyed a long-standing friendship. In recent years, there has been rapid expansion in areas of mutual economic cooperation, and a multi-level, wide-ranging cooperation framework has been established.
China's assistance to Africa has deepened and partnerships in areas such as trade, investment, and infrastructure development have broadened. Furthermore, both China and Africa are exploring common areas of interest in fields such as finance, telecommunications, energy, tourism, and aerospace.
All these initiatives have made China Africa's biggest trading partner. Statistics shows that China-Africa trade in 2010 reached USD126.9-billion, a year-on-year growth of 39.35%. Up to now, more than 1 600 Chinese companies have invested or started businesses in Africa. By the end of 2010, a total of USD40-billion investment from China had reached more than 50 countries.
In the first half of 2011, non-financial direct investment grew by 46.7% compared to last year. Analysis indicates that the total volume of investment is increasing, the fields of cooperation are expanding and the type of investment is diversifying.
In addition, to encourage investment from small and medium size Chinese businesses, 6 trade and economy cooperation zones have been established, in which thousands of job opportunities have been provided, the local industry developed, and tax income boosted.
While trade and economic development are blossoming, the cultural and academic exchange is also dynamic and fruitful. Programmes such as the China-Africa Youth Festival, China Africa Science and Technology Partnership Program (CASTEP), and China Africa Culture Forum, have been successfully started. In addition, China is also promoting training programmes in Africa, with 30 000 Africans being trained so far and more than 10 000 African students now studying in China.
As the largest commercial bank in China, ICBC boasts a powerful customer base, leading information technology and diversified products; and is a market leader in major business areas in China.
Since its simultaneous listing in Shanghai and Hong Kong in 2006, ICBC has rapidly enhanced its operating systems, management levels and profitability. ICBC is ranked the world's number one bank by market capitalisation, profit and customer deposits.
In recent years, ICBC has actively implemented its international operation strategy through the establishment of new institutions, mergers and acquisitions, accelerated the construction of overseas institutions, broadened the business areas and strived to enhance its cross-border financial service capacity.
ICBC has set up 234 overseas institutions in 31 countries and territories across the globe, established correspondence relationships with 1 537 banks in 135 countries and territories. Its global operating network covers Asia, Africa, Europe, the Americas and Australia.
Boosted by cutting-edge technologies, ICBC has integrated business processing, risk management and information sharing modules to ensure a seamless global platform to provide clients all over the world with top quality service.
In addition, continuous innovation and improvement of management and technology have enabled ICBC to establish global product lines and realise world-wide synergy in areas such as retailing, bank cards, e-Banking, settlement, financing, investment banking, capital management, and trade finance.
See www.icbc.com.cn for more about ICBC.
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