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ICBC Reclaims Banking Crown
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Following its successful initial public offering (IPO) in October, the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) has reclaimed first spot in this year's Top 100 Chinese Banks.


Bank of China was ranked second in terms of capital strength, according to The Banker, a British magazine known for its annual publication ranking the top 1,000 global banks.


China Construction Bank, which topped last year's list after its 2005 IPO, dropped to third.


The Agricultural Bank of China, the last State bank to undergo restructuring, claimed fourth place.


The Big Four had an aggregated core capital of 1.29 trillion yuan at the end of 2006, an increase of 69.7 percent over the previous year, accounting for 77.7 percent of the total held by the top 100 banks, the report said.


The big banks' pre-tax profit totaled 217.9 billion yuan last year, a year-on-year increase of 115.1 percent, accounting for 74.7 percent of the total.


"This shows the extraordinary growth of the Chinese banking sector," said Stephen Timewell, editor-in-chief of The Banker.


Chinese banks' aggregate profit ratio jumped to 16.9 percent, compared with 15 percent in last year's listing. The ratio for the world's top 1,000 banks was 22.7 percent, he said.


The second-largest group on the list was the 11 joint-stock banks, led by Bank of Communications in fifth spot.


They accounted for 15.1 percent of core capital, 19.2 percent of assets and 19 percent pre-tax profits.


The list did not include Guangdong Development Bank and China Everbright Bank, which have not produced full financial results since 2003, Timewell said.


A few new banks made their way toward the top of the list, including Beijing Rural Commercial Bank and Bohai Bank, which finished 14th and 19th respectively.


City commercial banks composed the largest group on the list with 65, but accounted for just 5.4 percent of core capital, 5.6 percent of assets and 4.6 percent of pre-tax profits.


"The latest listing demonstrates the dynamism and growing sophistication of China's banking sector, which is definitely needed if the economy is to maintain the current high levels of growth," said Timewell.


"The ranking also represents an important step forward in the level of disclosure and transparency of the entire Chinese banking system," Timewell said.


(China Daily June 6, 2007)

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