Chinese banks increase their loans abroad
BEIJING — Large Chinese banks are lending record volumes abroad in an attempt to benefit from further growth, aided by state-backed ambitions to build infrastructure around the world.
For banks, the timing for one of President Xi Jinping’s flagship initiatives, known as One Belt, One Road, is fortuitous: loans to finance hundreds of projects along ancient trade routes. promise oases of profitability in a context of faltering returns home.
For the first time, three of the country’s four largest lenders last year posted larger increases in loans abroad than loans to domestic companies. The expansion, which is said to have greatly benefited Chinese companies, comes as Chinese banks attempt to carve out a larger presence in some of the world’s most expensive business districts, both financially and physically: last year, Bank of China Ltd. moved its US headquarters to a 460-foot-tall glass tower in Midtown Manhattan.
The overseas financing boom has so far been confined to a few large state-owned banks, often called upon to help with policies such as the strategic push to expand China’s influence through building infrastructure. .
The Bank of China, China’s fourth-largest lender by assets, was the top originator of overseas business loans last year, with 1.7 trillion yuan ($ 246.8 billion) in such loans, i.e. an increase of 10.6% compared to 2015.