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Chinese Bank Expands Overseas Services
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The country'biggest lender, the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC), is expanding its overseas services and securing a bigger European market share.

The ICBC Frankfurt branch, the bank's Euro clearance center, has amassed Euro remittance worth US$1.4 billion in the first seven months of 2006 -- up 30 percent on last year.

The branch, established in 1999 and ICBC's first European venture, had US$700 million in assets by the end of July according to a report released by the bank.

Its London bank, a trade finance provider with a market share of 10 percent, raised US$70 million last year compared with US$40 million the year it opened in 2003. The London branch also experienced a 30 percent growth in assets and a 50 percent increase in profits in the first half of the year.

ICBC has also continued to upgrade its international services with the help of foreign strategic investment. In January Goldman Sachs, American Express and Allianz Group paid a combined US$3.8 billion for a nine percent stake in ICBC - the largest ever amount of foreign investment in China's banking industry.

Last year the bank handled foreign exchange transactions worth US$140 billion and its international settlement business grew steadily. ICBC has 106 branches around the world and established ties with 1,165 banks in 114 countries and regions at the end of last year.

The bank's total foreign currency assets exceeded US$60 billion by the end of 2005 with both its foreign currency deposits and loan balances standing at US$29 billion. The bank said its business profits hit 90 billion yuan (US$11.25 billion) in 2005.

(Xinhua News Agency September 18, 2006)

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