Sunday 28 May 2017

IFSC targets the largest Chinese bank for Dublin operation

Emmet Oliver Deputy Business Editor

Ireland is believed to be chasing a potential IFSC-investment by the giant Chinese bank, ICBC, as the country seeks to attract Asian banks to Dublin for the first time.

Industrial and Commercial Bank of China Ltd (ICBC) is the country's largest bank and some of its executives are believed to have visited Dublin in recent days. If the bank established an operation here, it would represent a major coup.

ICBC could use Dublin as a support base for other European investments. If the bank established itself here, even on a modest scale, it could also help to persuade some Asian sovereign wealth funds to locate some operations here.

The bank is one of China's 'big four' state-owned banks and has the largest market capitalisation of any bank in the world. It is in an expansionary phase, but to date this has concentrated on the Middle East.

Resources

The bank has huge resources after doing one of the world's largest ever IPOs in 2006 when it raised $21.9bn (€17.7bn). It is looking at opening a branch network in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.

The IFSC, with the assistance of the IDA, has been concentrating mainly on Middle Eastern banks in the last two years, but the tiny Asian presence in the financial hub is something that will need to be addressed as the Chinese economy grows.

The IFSC is undergoing a major change of direction with the appointment of a so-called "IFSC tsar'' John Bruton and a drive to get green companies to locate there.

Mr Bruton is heading up attempts to re-brand the hub and win new business. He will chair a new group, IFSC Ireland. The IFSC has surprised many observers by maintaining employment levels at about 25,000 throughout the crisis. But there is concern about how the centre has dropped in a major global index of financial hubs over the past year -- from 10th place to 23rd place.

In May, Accenture said Mr Bruton's immediate task was to address reputational issues stemming from the domestic financial crisis.

Irish Independent

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