ICBC’s impenetrable neighbour

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Industrial and Commercial Bank of China’s European headquarters in Luxembourg City is a prime piece of real estate.

That HSBC – formerly the world’s largest bank by market capitalization – once owned the building perhaps gives ICBC’s occupation of it added significance. That ICBC shares the building with a company called Manwin certainly gives it added spice.

A quick look at Manwin’s website reveals that it is "an international information technology firm, specializing in highly trafficked websites".

An attempt to delve deeper into Manwin’s website, however, would be ill-advised. HR would swoop down before you had the chance to close the window.

Because Manwin’s websites are indeed among the most highly-trafficked in the world. They include pornographic sites such as Tranny Surprise, Spankwire and MyDirtyHobby.com.

With that avenue of research closed, we took refuge in Wikipedia. With tongue firmly in cheek, we hope, it states: "The structure of the Manwin company has been described as highly complicated and impenetrable for anybody on the outside."

The company’s business model is described as "based on low margin and high revenue"; something the banking industry is increasingly having to get used to.

In December 2012, Manwin’s owner Fabian Thylmann was arrested on suspicion of tax evasion. He denied the charges, maintaining he was simply minimizing his tax burden.

We’ve heard this argument before, from financial institutions from the City to Wall Street. So, perhaps not such an unsuitable neighbour for a bank after all.

And in 2010, Manwin acquired a company called EuroRevenue. Not to be confused with Euromoney, we must stress.