Suning heeds Beijing's call for private lenders

Leading mainland retailer acquires internet domain names in shift into financial industry

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 22 August, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 22 August, 2013, 2:59am

Suning Commerce, one of the largest retailers on the mainland, plans to set up a bank after the central government issued guidelines encouraging private capital to enter the financial industry.

The Nanjing-based firm, formerly known as Suning Appliance, said yesterday it was "preparing actively to apply for establishing Suning Bank".

A spokeswoman said the company had secured the internet domain names "suningbank" and "sunanbank" last month for future use, but she declined to give further details.

The share price of Shenzhen-listed Suning rose 8.4 per cent to 7.59 yuan (HK$9.60) on the news.

Beijing has been encouraging private investment to enter the financial sector in order to break the near-monopoly of state-owned lenders. Last month, the State Council issued guidelines reaffirming the decision to allow private banks.

Shang Fulin, the chairman of the China Banking Regulatory Commission, said earlier that trials of privately owned financial institutions would debut in the second half of this year.

Suning, the biggest seller of electronic appliances on the mainland and a major online retailer, has wider ambitions. Last year, it said it planned to set up a microcredit firm in Chongqing to offer loans to small and medium-sized suppliers to the online shopping portal

It is also preparing to launch an online financial platform that will allow users to buy bonds, money funds and wealth management products. The online payment tool, Yifubao, used by Suning obtained a third-party payment licence from the central bank a year ago.

Other private firms have shown interest in the financial industry. Juneyao, which is in the airline and dairy businesses, is planning, along with firms including Fosun, to establish a bank with an initial investment of five billion yuan.

E-commerce giant Alibaba is a pioneer in the financial area. It started a microcredit business three years ago and has extended 100 billion yuan in loans to more than 320,000 small online businesses and entrepreneurs.

Last month, the China Securities Regulatory Commission approved the sale of up to five billion yuan of notes backed by loans from Alibaba.