Bank of China gets its rating upgraded
Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services upgraded Bank of China’s standalone credit profile from BBB- to BBB, revising their assessment of the bank from “moderate” to “adequate,” according to a statement.
The ratings agency maintained the bank’s Counterparty Credit rating at “A/A-1.”
“Standard & Poor’s Rating Services reckoned the revision reflected the Bank’s stable asset quality with very low credit loss experience in recent years, moderated credit growth and significant offshore asset portfolio, which diversify the Bank’s overall risk,” Bank of China (BOC) said in the statement.
BOC, China’s fourth-largest lender by assets, also said that S&P viewed the bank as having maintained its business position, with stable capital, strong funding and liquidity management.
Earlier in December, Bank of China ranked seventh on Millward Brown’s annual list of 100 most-valuable Chinese brands, just above state-owned oil giants PetroChina and Sinopec and insurance company China Life. Millward Brown, a market-research company under media group WPP, valued BOC at $13.6 billion.
Millward Brown commended the bank for expanding its international renminbi clearing system. The research company called BOC China’s “most international” bank with presence in 36 countries, and said that the bank took “a number of steps to reduce its liabilities, expand its core low cost deposits and tighten its risk controls,” all in response to concern over debt in the Chinese financial system.
The bank announced
in October results for the first nine months of the year and reported $11.9 billion of nonperforming loans, giving it a non-performing loan ratio of 0.96 percent, which is up 0.01 percent from the same period last year.
BOC made $19.8 billion in net profit, a 13.2 percent increase year-on-year for the same period. Its net interest income was $34.3 billion for the first nine months, and the bank reported assets and liabilities of $2.2 trillion and $2.1 trillion, respectively. Customer deposits totaled $1.7 trillion, up 9.5 percent year-on-year.
The lender conducted $440 billion of cross-border renminbi trade this year, up by 56 percent compared to the same period last year, it said. BOC became the first renminbi clearing bank in Luxembourg, having already been designated the renminbi clearing bank in Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Malaysia.
“Fully leveraging on advantages of its global service network and diversified platforms, the Bank continued to improve its global service capability and supported the Chinese enterprises ‘going global,’” the bank said in its results.
Established in the US in 1981, BOC said it aims to make its branch in New York a major player in cross-border renminbi trade in the US.
“Bank of China New York will seize this historic opportunity to rigorously develop renminbi business,” the bank wrote in an e-mail note to China Daily, “and to strive to become a major renminbi clearing bank in the US, while supporting national policy to do more for the globalization of renminbi.”
BOC’s total overseas assets and profit for the first nine months of the year before tax were $584.6 billion and $4.83 billion, respectively, which accounted for 24.72 percent and 18.5 percent of the bank’s total pre-tax assets and profit, according to the report.
In October, BOC continued its expansion in North America by establishing its 11th branch in Canada in Montreal, offering services including corporate cross-border renminbi settlement, trade financing, commercial mortgages, and project financing.
In addition to Montreal, the bank also celebrated the opening of its fourth US branch in Chicago in March, which had already opened for business in December last year. As the wave of Chinese investments continues in the US, BOC’s Chicago branch will serve companies doing business in Illinois and other Midwestern states.
“As a large global banking group, Bank of China will spare no effort in promoting China-US partnership and seizing opportunities in banking development between the two countries,” Yue Yi, a BOC vicepresident, told China Daily.
“The strategy is to serve Chinese enterprises going abroad as well as multinational companies investing in China,” Yue said.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel said in a congratulatory note that the opening of a branch in Chicago becomes another financial resource for the more than 40 Chinese companies that already operate in and around the third-largest US city, and its presence could bring about more regional investment.
Bank of China, along with Morgan Stanley, contributed to Shuanghui International’s acquisition of Smithfield Foods Inc this year, the biggest USChina deal. The two financial institutions provided $7 billion in loans to Shuanghui for the acquisition, and according to Reuters, BOC provided $4 billion in a five-year term loan.
The bank also took part in the China National Offshore Oil Corp’s acquisition of Canadian oil and gas company Nexen, according to the bank’s earnings report. Wan Li contributed to this story.
A Bank of China branch in Manhattan. Standard & Poor’s upgraded the rating on the Chinese bank because of the quality of assets, low credit losses and significant offshore portfolios.