Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) is the world’s biggest bank by assets. And it’s doing well.
Like the other big Chinese state owned banks, its beaten profit expectations.
Profits were up on the back of the ratio of non-performing loans (i.e. loans that aren’t being repaid or have little chance of being repaid) falling. The value of deposits at the bank has also gone up.
ICBC has benefited from government measures, such as rules to curb financial leverage, increased regulation of the shadowing banking sector, and policies that have boosted the economy. These measures have helped increase the number of loans and driven up the rates which Chinese banks pay when they borrow money from one another, padding ICBC’s margins.
And whilst the bigger banks have benefited from these reforms, smaller institutions, such as Bank of Ningbo, are beginning to suffer. This could be down to the bigger institutions being better able to absorb rising inter-bank lending costs and government steering lenders away.
Full steam ahead
ICBC’s lending activity is expected to continue growing over the coming year, aided by Chinese companies expanding overseas.
Fee-based income (money it makes from providing services) was down slightly.
And whilst the ratio is down, the value of bad debt is still rising.
Some think the bank could do more to boost its wealth management services, particularly as customers are becoming more “tech-savvy”, with internet finance firms growing in prominence.