China Construction Bank, which will soon sell A shares in the mainland, plans to expand into Vietnam and Australia. The Hong Kong-listed mainland lender's overseas business accounted for less than 2 per cent of earnings and had huge potential to grow, the China Securities Journal quoted chairman Guo Shuqing as saying. The report said the bank would accelerate its overseas expansion and that it was not ruling out acquisitions. 'The biggest hurdle to expanding overseas is talent and experience,' Mr Guo said. He said the bank would hire local people in overseas markets as it was cost-effective and the staff knew local conditions better. Key lenders such as Industrial and Commercial Bank of China and Bank of China are also seeking international expansion opportunities as they grow revenue streams and take advantage of the mainland's increasing trade around the world. A spokesman at China Construction Bank confirmed that the company had made an application for setting up a branch in Vietnam and for opening a representative office in Australia. He said the Vietnamese economy had grown rapidly in recent years and there were opportunities for mainland enterprises. Mr Guo said the bank would strengthen its risk management and customer services when tapping overseas business. He said that the bank would make use of foreign currency reserves and local currency in overseas markets to reduce the risk of losses and avoid the red tape in currency exchanges. China Construction Bank, which plans to issue up to nine billion A shares to broaden its capital base, has branches in Hong Kong, Germany, Seoul, Singapore, South Africa and Tokyo. The lender last year bought the former Bank of America (Asia) - later renamed China Construction Bank (Asia) - in Hong Kong from Bank of America which still has a 9 per cent stake in the bank. ICBC, which bought 90 per cent of Bank Halim Indonesia in January, is in preliminary partnership talks with National Bank of Pakistan to capitalise on rapidly growing bilateral trade. ICBC chairman Jiang Jianqing last month said the bank also planned to set up branches in the United States and Russia. China Construction Bank shares closed yesterday at HK$5.85, up 1.39 per cent.