Time for global banks to cash their 'China ATMs' In the middle of this global financial meltdown, where in the world can you still cash in on your stock investments? Check out the mainland financials. The time is ripe for global banks to take advantage of their 'China ATMs' and repatriate the proceeds to help weather the current storm. Bank of America Corp, which raised US$9.7 billion in fresh capital on Tuesday, will be free to sell its 19 billion shares in China Construction Bank Corp after October 27 when the three-year lock-up expires. Despite CCB falling 12.36 per cent yesterday to close at HK$3.90, Bank of America is still sitting on more than HK$50 billion in paper profit, compared with its initial investment of US$3 billion. Yes, that stake was worth almost HK$100 billion more at its peak last year, but it still looks tempting. Royal Bank of Scotland is likely to be in more of a hurry to cash out from the Hong Kong stock market. One of the major recipients of the US$87 billion bailout from the UK Treasury, it owns about 21 billion shares in Bank of China, which were worth HK$54 billion at yesterday's close of HK$2.59, or HK$30 billion above the US$3 billion RBS paid. However, the bank will have to wait until the two-year lock-up period expires in December. Meanwhile, you might think the mighty HSBC Holdings would be inclined to hold on to its mainland investments, judging by how much the bank has outperformed its global rivals in the past month. But never say never. Its stake in the two mainland flagships - Ping An Insurance (Group) and Bank of Communications - are still worth more than HK$100 billion. For other fallen angels, their stakes in mainland financials are unlikely to make much difference. American International Group's stake in PICC Property and Casualty is worth HK$3.1 billion, while bankrupt Lehman Brothers Holdings' stake in China Citic Bank Corp is worth HK$4.3 billion. These figures are peanuts compared to the kind of numbers that have been making headlines lately. Banking on the Big Apple They may be about to rename it 'Gone to the Wall Street', but it hasn't discouraged China Merchants Bank from opening a branch there. The mainland lender chose yesterday to announce that it had begun wholesale deposit-taking, lending, trade finance and other banking services in New York. But then, it has been bucking the trend lately, having just completed the takeover of Wing Lung Bank in a deal that had nothing to do with bailouts or bankruptcies. We reckon Uncle Ben and Uncle Henry should have been there rolling out the red carpet. Fiasco throws up names Not a day goes by without the local media pointing the finger at who is responsible for the Lehman Brothers minibond fiasco. Yesterday, Next magazine picked on Sun Hung Kai Fund Management chief executive Christophe Lee Kin-ping in its cover story. Mr Lee is known as the father of Hong Kong minibonds, having been behind the first, a Hutchison Whampoa product offering a yield of 4.3 per cent, in 2002. He has since sold more than 130 of them, mostly issued through Lehman Brothers. Given the current uproar, it is somewhat ironic that Mr Lee has been on the advisory board of the Securities and Futures Commission since last year. We called Mr Lee for a comment, but he declined to be interviewed. But to be fair, all our financial regulators, including Hong Kong Monetary Authority boss Joseph Yam Chi-kwong and SFC chief Martin Wheatley should be put under the spotlight for this one. Profits for a cause Not every tycoon has lost money in the global financial meltdown. We noticed Singapore-based Indonesian billionaire Oei Hong Leong made US$3.2 million by punting on AIG. The man who famously sold sleepy telecoms equipment distributor Tricom to Prince Richard's PCCW during the dotcom boom bought a million AIG shares at US$1.80 on September 16, the day it secured an US$85 billion loan from the US government, and sold them within a week at US$5. Mr Oei donated the proceeds to the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, which supports Chinese post-graduate students in Singapore.