Bank of China

BOCHK to tap its unique family ties

PUBLISHED : Friday, 19 August, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 19 August, 2005, 12:00am


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BOC Hong Kong (Holdings) aims to capitalise on its 'unique position' by increasing earnings from its mainland business to 10 per cent of the group's total profit in the next three to five years, according to vice-chairman and chief executive He Guangbei.

The bank, Hong Kong's third largest lender, yesterday reported that pretax operating profit from its mainland operations had almost doubled in the first half. Mr He credited the gain to the 40 per cent increase in total loan volume to $15.13 billion

He said the unit, which accounts for about 3 per cent of the group's business, would take advantage of its parent company's extensive customer network to develop 'cross-border banking'.

'BOCHK has a unique position among Hong Kong banks conducting business in the mainland,' Mr He said. 'Many of our Hong Kong corporate clients turn to us to provide banking services when they do business in the mainland.

'Conversely, when clients of our parent company move out of the country they usually set up overseas headquarters in Hong Kong and because of our unique relationship with the Bank of China many of them will choose to bank with us.'

During the first half, nine BOCHK mainland branches obtained permission to sell insurance and Mr He said the bank was preparing to introduce foreign currency wealth management services.

The bank yesterday posted an interim net profit growth of 16.8 per cent to $6.52 billion, due largely to gains from property revaluation under new accounting rules and some healthy loan growth.

Mr He declined to predict whether the bank would be able to replicate the $927 million it made through the revaluation of investment properties - up from the $26 million a year earlier - in the second half.

'That will depend on the performance of the property market,' he said. 'Personally, I believe it will remain stable with some upward potential.'

Core earnings showed decent growth, with net interest income rising a 6 per cent to $5.86 billion.

Like other giant deposit-taking lenders such as HSBC and Hang Seng Bank, BOCHK took advantage of the more than 350-basis-point increase in the Hong Kong interbank offered rate (Hibor) in the first half to record a three-basis-point rise in net interest margin from the same period last year.

Highlighting the almost 8 per cent overall loan growth was the solid gain in its mortgage business, one of the largest in the industry. The unit overcame intense competition and the narrowing prime-Hibor spread to record an 8.2 per cent growth in its mortgage portfolio.

BOCHK shares yesterday fell 3.91 per cent to close at $15.95.