Special Report: Global Financial Crisis
BEIJING, April 14 -- China's banking
industry snatched the world's number one spot in 2008 with net profits growing
30.6 percent year on year to reach 583.4 billion yuan, the People's Daily
reported on Monday.
Chinese banks also lead the global banking industry
in terms of return on investment, which stood at 17.1 percent last year, around
7 percentage points higher than the global average.
In their annual earnings releases for the year 2008,
Chinese listed banks reported excellent results. The Industrial and Commercial
Bank of China (ICBC) reported a profit of 111.2 billion yuan, a 35.2 percent
increase year on year. China Construction Bank registered a 34 percent growth in
annual profits to 92.64 billion yuan. Profits of the Bank of China and Bank of
Communications grew 14.42 percent and 40.05 percent respectively to reach 64.36
billion yuan and 28.39 billion yuan.
The extraordinary performance of Chinese banks in the
midst of the worst financial crisis for decades is due to their recent drive to
turn themselves into modern financial enterprises, and enhanced risk control,
the paper said.
At the end of 2008, capital adequacy ratios in 193
commercial banks, accounting for 99.5 percent of the country's total banking
capital, were higher than national regulations require.
Chinese lenders have been closely following the
development of the global financial market and adjusting their asset structure
and investment strategies accordingly, the paper said.
Starting from 2008, ICBC reduced its holding of risky
foreign currency bonds and set aside enough reserve funds to cover any losses
from such investments.
The lender's latest earnings report showed that it
had held 1.195 billion dollars of U.S. subprime mortgage-backed bonds at the end
of 2008. It had had 599 million U.S. dollars of Alt-A mortgage-backed bonds and
55 million U.S. dollars of structured investment vehicles (SIVs). But the total
value of all these securities ¨C 1.849 billion U.S. dollars ¨C accounted for just
0.13 percent of the bank's total assets.
In the face of the global financial crisis and the
domestic economic slowdown, Chinese banks have responded to the central
government's monetary easing by increasing credit. Increased lending has, on the
one hand, supported the government's efforts to expand domestic demand and spur
economic growth and, on the other hand, enhanced banks' profitability.
Since last November, bank lending has been growing
rapidly. New loans in January reached a record high of 1.62 trillion yuan.
Meanwhile, Chinese banks have also adjusted their
credit portfolios, beefing up support to small and medium-sized enterprises
(SME) as well as to farmers in rural areas where access to loans used to be
China Construction Bank (CCB) has so far set up 78
SME centers nationwide to streamline loan procedures for SMEs.
"With these centers, SMEs know where to go for a loan
and the bank's client managers also actively seek out SME clients, which they
largely ignored previously. We are aiming to cut procedures for a SME loan to
5.7 days from the current 10.9 days," said Zhu Dabin, director of one of CCB's
Last year, Chinese banks' outstanding loans to small
enterprises rose 15 percent. Chinese banks' steady performance amid the economic
downturn at home and abroad is due to the country's steady financial reforms in
recent years, the paper said.
Six years ago, the country's state-owned commercial
banks were regarded by foreign media as "technical bankrupt" and a "time-bomb
for the Chinese economy". But these same banks have grown into internationally
recognized commercial lenders after carrying out shareholding reforms,
introducing strategic investors and public listings. Driven by the reform of the
big banks, China's other banks have also made great headway in restructuring and
risk control. The whole banking industry has undergone fundamental changes.
The ratio of non-performing loans in major commercial
banks stood at just 6 percent in September 2008 compared with 23.6 percent at
the end of 2002.
The Chinese banking industry has never been in a
better state, the paper said. The healthy development of the banking sector will
not only tide it over the global financial crisis but also help lay a solid
foundation for the steady, rapid growth of the country's economy.¡¡