29 November 2011
The Industrial and Commercial Bank of China officially opened its first African representative office in Cape Town last week, seeking to increase its understanding of African markets and facilitate increased trade and investment between China and the continent.
Speaking at the inauguration of the office, ICBC chairman Jiang Jianqing said the strategic positioning and growth potential of Africa in the long run had always been a focus of the bank.
“Being an important gateway of Africa to the world and a member of the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa), the Republic of South Africa is recognised as a model of the fast-growing economies in Africa,” he said.
“ICBC’s decision to open a representative office in South Africa reflects the strong belief we have in Africa, as well as the importance of the China-Africa strategic partnership.”
The office will also focus on strengthening strategic cooperation between ICBC and Standard Bank, in which the Chinese bank acquired a 20% stake in 2008 for R36.7-billion.
“ICBC’s purchase of a 20% stake in Standard Bank was the largest Chinese investment in Africa and signalled ICBC’s clear commitment to Africa,” said Standard Bank Group CEO Jacko Maree.
Identifying new business opportunities
Maree said that Standard Bank was working closely with ICBC to identify new business opportunities across the continent
By the end of September 2011, the two banks had been involved in over 110 cooperative projects, covering multiple areas such as corporate business, settlement and cash management, IT, money market and risk management.
The total amount of financing agreements signed by ICBC was over US$7-billion, making ICBC one of the most influential Chinese financial institutions in Africa.
“Across the African continent, from the construction of the largest coal-fuelled power station in Botswana, to the syndicated loan to Ghana Cocoa Board; from the Angola Social Housing Constructions Site to the Nigeria expressway, staff of the two banks are working together on the frontlines,” said Jiang.
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