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October 30, 2009

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Home » Business » Finance

Slower loan growth set to hit ICBC net

SLOWING loan growth could hurt profit at the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China next year, after a lending boom earlier this year helped the world's most valuable bank post a 19-percent rise in third-quarter profit.

ICBC, with a market value of roughly US$500 billion, reported July-September earnings of 33.6 billion yuan (US$4.92 billion), compared with 28.2 billion yuan a year earlier, and a touch above the 32.6 billion yuan forecast by seven analysts polled by Reuters.

ICBC's net interest income fell to 178.2 billion yuan in the first nine months of this year, down 9.42 percent from the same period of last year.

After declining for most of the year, net interest margins began stabilizing in the second quarter and are expected to rise in the final quarter this year and next year.

Loans granted by China's banks totalled 7.4 trillion yuan in the first half, triple the year-earlier level, before falling significantly in July and August. But lending picked up surprisingly last month to 517 billion yuan.

Looming over Chinese banks now is the question of how they will pace their lending next year, as they are on track to issue about 10 trillion yuan this year. Few analysts think this year's level will be sustainable.

Domestic rivals China Construction Bank and the Bank of Communications have already reported a slowdown in loan growth in the third quarter.

ICBC, in which Goldman Sachs, Allianz Group and American Express hold stakes, said loans and advances totalled 5.58 trillion yuan by the end of last month.

Compared with 5.44 trillion yuan in loans at the end of June, the third-quarter figure was up 2.6 percent - a sharp slowdown from the 19-percent loan growth ICBC seen in the first half.

Concerns are growing that China might lean on banks to tighten lending, eating into profit as the country reins in its ultra-relaxed monetary stance.


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