While Beijing's fiscal tightening policies have landed domestic lenders in hot water, loan growth at foreign lenders, whose mainland operations are in the early stages, remain unaffected. CCB International analyst Bonnie Lai expects foreign lenders to maintain loan growth on the mainland despite the credit-tightening environment. 'As most foreign banks are just starting to compete for yuan-denominated business, they still have room to grow,' Ms Lai said. Banks would continue to focus on lending to big companies and well-known customers to minimise the risks arising from the macroeconomic measures, she added. Bank of East Asia last month projected loan growth of 25 per cent to 33 per cent for this year, slower than the 72 per cent growth recorded last year. However, the bank was optimistic on the outlook for its mainland operations, saying it would actively take on yuan deposits to help reduce the cost of funding. 'Given the interest rate spreads of more than 3 per cent between one-year loans and one-year deposits, banks with bigger networks on the mainland will benefit the most,' said another analyst. Peter Wong Tung-shun, a director at Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corp, HSBC's Asia-Pacific unit, said the bank would ensure customers made full use of credit lines when granting facilities to clients under the tighter lending environment. Mr Wong added that the bank would continue to take yuan deposits actively and expand its wealth management operations.