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CCB set to keep lending at near 17%

CHINA Construction Bank expects its lending to grow close to 17 percent this year and is not interested in foreign acquisitions, Chairman Guo Shuqing said in an interview published yesterday.

Guo expressed his confidence in the bank's loan growth this year, which he expects to maintain at a nearly 17-percent increase as last year's.

Guo also expects lower profitability due to the central bank's five rate cuts and narrower margins, he said in an interview published by the Asian Banker yesterday.

The bank is at the forefront of lending for infrastructure construction under the central government's stimulus package as it is the main player in China's infrastructure lending.

The bank is also focusing on the small business sector. "Small business banking for us is a strategic area because the profit margin can be very high," Guo said, quoting a "selective" attitude.

The bank charged on average 6 percent to 7 percent for small business credit last year. The interest charge can reach 14 percent to 18 percent in the underground market as small businesses have little access to banks. Small and medium-sized enterprises accounted for less than 25 percent of lending for the Beijing-based bank.

Guo said the bank has no interest to invest overseas now as "it's still not a very good time because there is so much uncertainty. There is a lot of bad debt, bad assets coming on the books. So we are not so keen to do that. We are mainly a domestic-concentrated bank. We have a very big market here."


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