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SME loans to rise, says Ping An
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Shenzhen Ping An Bank expects lending to small- and medium-sized enterprises to grow 50 percent next year, according to the lender.


The Shenzhen-based bank expects the growth of loans to SMEs will outpace the corporate banking's growth of 18 percent in 2008, said Ye Wangchun, vice president of the bank.


"The focus and support on the SME business is quite clear," said Ye.


The bank's SME business will be run relatively independently to develop more interest among employees to grow the business, he added.


The bank set up eight sub-branches in Shenzhen. In Shanghai, it will set up two SME service centers - one opened yesterday - to woo qualified clients. A similar center will be set up in Fuzhou, capital of Fujian Province.


China is encouraging SME financing to help small businesses, a group which has little track record and collateral to get credit from banks.


Ping An Bank offers a one-year non-collateral loans of up to 500,000 yuan (US$68,212.82) to SMEs.


The bank is also leveraging the insurance strength of parent Ping An Insurance (Group) Co, the country's second-biggest insurer, to expand its banking business.


The bank will pick up five percent of its clients to help them list on China's growth enterprise market with the help of Ping An Securities under the Ping An umbrella.


"We will look at any opportunity to expand business," said Richard Jackson, president of the bank and the chief finance business officer of Ping An Insurance (Group).


"We will concentrate very hard on organic growth," Jackson said, noting that Ping An Group's business was mainly achieved via organic growth in its 20-year history.


The bank plans to add five to six outlets in Shanghai by the end of 2008, said Wang Shijun, manager of the Shanghai branch of the bank.


Ping An gained regulatory approval in June to buy Ping An Bank and merge it with Shenzhen Commercial Bank to form Shenzhen Ping An Bank. The bank is a relatively small player, with a total of about 50 outlets in Shanghai, Shenzhen in Guangdong Province and Fuzhou in Fujian Province.


The bank will focus on retail and SME financing.


(Shanghai Daily December 27, 2007)


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