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Lower NPL Ratios Reported for China's Small, Medium-sized Lenders
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China's banking watchdog said Friday that non-performing loan (NPL) ratios had declined last year at the country's small-and medium-sized lenders, citing 12 joint-stock banks and 11 major city-level banks.

A combined NPL ratio of 2.96 percent was recorded at the end of last December in China's 12 joint-stock commercial banks, 1.8 percentage points down from the beginning of last year, said the China Banking Regulatory Commission.

The Bank of Communications, China Merchants Bank and China Minsheng Bank figure on the list, but the nation's three leading state-owned banks that have been transformed into joint-stock companies -- Bank of China, China Construction Bank and the Industrial and Commercial Bank, are not included.

The latest figure was a little higher than data released on Jan. 19, when the commission said the 12 lenders recorded an NPL ratio of 2.81 percent at the end of last December. No reason was given for the adjustment.

The 12 banks' bad loans totaled 99 billion yuan (US$12.4 billion) at the end of last year, the commission said on Friday.

China's banking institutions progressed markedly last year, reducing overall risk exposure and improving services and competitiveness, said Liu Mingkang, president of the commission.

Eleven city-level commercial banks, each with assets of more than 50 billion yuan, also saw their combined NPL ratio drop 1.7 percentage points to 6 percent from the beginning of 2006.

The commission said it will continue to encourage local governments to deal with the problem assets of city-level lenders and increase their capital adequacy ratio by injecting funds.

By the end of last December, 59 city-level banks had shed 68.5 billion yuan of bad assets, including 51.1 billion yuan of NPLs, with capital injections from 17 provincial governments, said the commission.

(Xinhua News Agency February 3, 2007)

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