ICBC Macau’s Hengqin plan is still in pipeline

The bank asked the mainland for permission to expand onto the island more than a year ago

Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (Macau) Ltd (ICBC Macau) says the mainland authorities are still considering its plan to get a foothold on Hengqin Island.
Last week one of ICBC Macau’s competitors, Luso International Banking Ltd, got permission to open a representative office on Hengqin, which could be a step towards setting up a branch there.
ICBC Macau bank applied to establish a presence on the island more than a year ago.
The bank declined to say whether its plan faced any obstacle.
It told Business Daily in writing simply that it was still “in the process of applying for approval to the mainland regulatory authorities”.
ICBC Macau did not say whether it was seeking to set up a branch or a representative office.
The bank’s parent company, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China Ltd, one of China’s big four state-owned banks, already has a branch on Hengqin.
ICBC Macau had been regarded as the frontrunner in the race among Macau’s banks to get a foothold on Hengqin, having been the first to express interest in establishing a presence there.
The ninth supplement to Macau’s Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement with the mainland lowered the minimum assets a Macau bank must have before it may open a Hengqin branch to US$4 billion (32 billion patacas) from US$6 billion.
ICBC Macau chief executive Shen Xiaoqi said in December 2012: “The Monetary Authority of Macau has already approved our application and the application has been delivered to the Guangdong Banking Regulatory Commission.”
Mr Shen said his bank intended to “mainly provide the financial services required by Macau companies working on Hengqin”.
But it was Luso International that turned out to be the first of Macau’s banks to get the green light to expand onto the island.
The bank is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the mainland’s Xiamen International Bank.
Luso International has said its representative office on Hengqin will open on Friday.
Two other Macau banks – Tai Fung Bank Ltd and Banco Nacional Ultramarino SA – have expressed interest in expanding onto Hengqin.
Over 300 financial institutions, including banks and insurers, are authorised to do business on the island, according to the provincial government of Guangdong.