Chinese bank on lending growth
BANK of China is eyeing expansion into wealth management and SME lending in Australia on the back of surging investment from the world’s second-biggest economy.
BoC said Queensland would be a key focus of the expansion, with the Brisbane branch posting annual growth in the volume of assets held of more than 80 per cent over the past five years. It did not provide a dollar figure.
“We see a pretty strong business outlook and we are seeing it in demand for mortgages and from small and large corporations,” said BoC Australia country head Hu Shanjun.
BoC’s plans underscore the growing ambitions of mainland lenders in Australia, supported by investment in sectors such as property and mining.
BoC in 2010 became the first Chinese lender to open a branch in Brisbane. It has since been joined by other major mainland lenders including Bank of Communications and China Construction Bank.
“When you look back five years, we have grown strongly and steadily in Australia,” Mr Hu said. “We are now among the top eight foreign banks in terms of local asset volume after being ranked 15th in 2010.”
According to its latest financial filing with ASIC, Bank of China Australia made loans last year of $772 million, up from $697 million in 2013. Most loans were for property. Customer deposits grew from $772 million in 2013 to $936 million last year.
“We expect to engage in more sectors like wealth management, SME lending and development loans, areas where we were rarely involved in previously,” Mr Hu said.
Chinese investors are now the biggest foreign acquirers of Queensland property, investing $463 million in 2013-2014. Shanghai-based China Capital Investment Group this year paid over $30 million for Daydream Island Resort and Spa.
“Queensland is the emerging market after NSW and Victoria,” said Mr Hu. “Chinese investors are interested in an array of sectors, not only property but tourism, agriculture and education.”
BoC, one of the top five big banks in China, added that it was helping Australian companies including Telstra, Qantas and Woolworths with their banking needs.
“We have supported Chinese companies with their investment activities in Queensland as well as Australian companies doing business in China, China,” Mr Hu said.