The Business Herald’s markets and banking reporter.

China Construction Bank gains NZ banking license

China Construction Bank will become New Zealand's 24th registered bank. Photo / Twitter-@MexicoEnNumeros
China Construction Bank will become New Zealand's 24th registered bank. Photo / Twitter-@MexicoEnNumeros

China Construction Bank, which has been granted a license to operate in New Zealand, will initially focus on business banking as it establishes a presence in this country but is looking to eventually establish retail operations here, says Dame Jenny Shipley, chairwoman of the Chinese lender's local arm.

The Chinese bank last year approved a US$50 million capital injection to set up a New Zealand subsidiary, adding to its branches in Germany, South Africa, Vietnam, Russia, the US, Korea, Australia, Singapore, Taiwan and Japan, plus a wholly-owned subsidiary in the UK.

Its registration follows that of the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, which became the first Chinese bank to register in New Zealand last November.

Shipley said China Construction Bank New Zealand had been granted a license by this country's Reserve Bank to operate a full range of banking services, including retail banking.

However, its current strategy was to work with Kiwi firms doing business in China and Chinese companies coming the opposite direction, as well as "supporting high net worth individuals who are either present or wish to come to New Zealand and do business here".

"In due course we will develop the retail banking platform," Shipley said. "The first two years of our strategy will focus very much on the trade business and the investment business and some of the currency conversion opportunities."

She said the Chinese bank would bring additional competition into the local banking market.

"Obviously the Australian banks dominate our banking sector," said Shipley, who was a director of China Construction Bank for six years before retiring last year. "Over time we would hope to provide a competitive banking environment alongside other existing banking services."

China and New Zealand have set a target of reaching $30 billion in annual bilateral trade by 2020.

Shipley said the Chinese bank viewed that growth in trade as "a very large business opportunity".

The bank's local arm also counts former PwC chairman John Shewan, now an adjunct professor at Wellington's Victoria University, as a director.

In a statement the bank said it would focus on wholesale banking services including deposits, syndicated and bilateral loans and trade finance products.

"Leveraging on CCB's global multi-currency payment network and trading platform, CCB NZ will be able to provide swift and reliable settlement services for NZD, CNY, USD and other major currencies, as well as a variety of foreign exchange products."

The bank said it would also pursue opportunities to participate in large-scale New Zealand construction projects.

China Construction Bank, which is listed on the Shanghai and Hong Kong stock exchanges, said its market capitalisation reached US$187.8 billion at the end of its last financial year.

The bank operates 14,650 branches in Mainland China, providing services to three million corporate clients and 291 million retail customers.

Shipley said China Construction Bank New Zealand had established a head office in central Auckland's Vero Centre.

-With BusinessDesk

- NZ Herald

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