Industrial and Commercial Bank of China Ltd, the largest bank by market value in the world, became the most profitable commercial lender in China last year while reporting a record low ratio for non-performing loans.
In an annual statement released on Thursday, the lender said it had a net profit of 208.4 billion yuan ($33 billion) in 2011, up by 25.6 percent from a year earlier.
Its pre-tax profits from overseas institutions increased by 18 percent in the year, rising to $1.4 billion. Still, that was 19.2 percentage points lower than the increase of 37.2 percent those profits had shown a year earlier.
The bank's overseas assets, though, increased by nearly 65 percent and reached $124.7 billion by the end of the year. The year before, they had increased by 45.1 percent.
Yang Kaisheng, president of ICBC, said the smaller increase in overseas profits was the result of the lender's large overseas expansion last year.
By the end of last year, the bank had 15.4 trillion yuan in assets, while its non-performing loan ratio declined by 0.14 percentage point from a year earlier to 0.94 percent.
Jiang Jianqing, ICBC chairman, said the bank's non-performing loans have increased since the third quarter but ICBC's asset quality and provision are still strong.
"We've been reporting declines in outstanding non-performing loans and the non-performing loan ratio for 12 consecutive years," Jiang said on Thursday at a news briefing.
Yang said the lender has no plan this year to obtain financing from the equity market and that its loan risks related to local governments and the property market are contained.
At the end of last year, ICBC's capital adequacy ratio stood at 13.17 percent and its core capital adequacy ratio at 10.07 percent. If the bank adopted the new calculation methods promoted by the China Banking Regulatory Commission, Jiang said, the ratio would be even higher.
At the end of 2011, more than 97 percent of the loans ICBC had made to local governments using financing vehicles could be fully paid back through projects' cash flow, Yang said.
The bank's non-performing loan ratio for local government loans stood at 0.73 percent by the end of the year. The non-performing loan ratio for loans to real estate developers was 0.82 percent and the ratio for individual housing loans was 0.35 percent, ICBC said.
By the year of 2014, loans to small and medium-sized enterprises will make up 60 percent of the bank's corporate loans, he said.
He said he expects ICBC to have more than 1.1 trillion yuan in outstanding loans to such enterprises by the end of 2015.
In 2011, ICBC's lending to SMEs increased by 46.1 percent while corporate loans increased less than a year earlier. The non-performing loan ratio related to loans for SMEs was 0.69 percent at the end of last year.
Yang said the bank is under little pressure from narrowing net interest rate margins this year. Nearly 70 percent of its loans will be re-priced at last year's rates, when interest rates were hiked, while only 36.8 percent of its deposits will be re-priced higher.
"And among these deposits, 80 percent are deposits with maturities of less than a year."
Also releasing its annual results on Thursday, Bank of China Ltd, the country's fourth-biggest lender by market value, posted a net profit of 130.3 billion yuan, up by 18.81 percent year-on-year, the lowest increase among the biggest State-owned lenders.
It made 682 billion yuan in new loans in 2011, increasing the value of its outstanding loans to 6.3 trillion yuan. And the lender's non-performing loans increased to 63.3 billion yuan at the end of last year.