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Bank of China: Outbound ambitions

Internationalization is starting to pay dividends in performance

Bank of China stands a little apart from the country’s other big four lenders. Its numbers tend to run a little out of step with the herd. While its peers drifted, it logged a 23% increase in profit in its second-quarter 2017 results, thanks to better bad loan data and lending margins; then in the third quarter, it did the reverse and slipped in asset quality while the others improved.

The main reason it looks different is its international business mix. It now operates in 52 countries and regions across six continents. You can find the bank’s circular red logo from Glasgow to Lusaka.

This is really not a bad time to be China’s most internationally focused commercial bank

The world is enjoying synchronized global growth for the first time in a decade; and the Belt and Road Initiative has Bank of China right at the heart of it. 

It is already working out: according to former chairman Tian Guoli, who has been succeeded by Chen Siqing, pre-tax profits from the bank’s overseas institutions were 39% higher in 2016 than the previous year.

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