The chief of the mainland's Bank of Communications has denied reports the lender plans to sell shares to HSBC Holdings. 'We haven't had discussions with HSBC,' chairman Yin Jieyan said yesterday, commenting on reports HSBC might be negotiating to take a stake in China's fifth-largest commercial lender. 'You need a date before getting married. We don't even have a date [with HSBC].' Mr Yin was speaking after a panel discussion during the 10th Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference. Although denying the HSBC reports, he said Bank of Communications had central bank approval to sell shares to foreign investors. It had recently completed an asset valuation and audit based on international accounting standards to pave the way for the introduction of foreign partners. In yesterday's panel discussion, Mr Yin said regulations should be amended to provide more legal protection for mainland banks in light of growing foreign competition. He suggested an expert group be formed to study amending the eight-year-old commercial banking law and central banking law, which had been unable to cope with growing competition, especially since China entered the World Trade Organisation. Mainland banks were in a difficult position; they could not crack overseas markets because of constraints by overseas regulators, while on their home turf they were increasingly feeling the heat from bigger foreign rivals.