Several of the foreign investors in the Industrial Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) may sell their stakes later this year, the Wall Street Journal reported. American Express indicated that it may exit later this year while investment bank Goldman Sachs said that it will hold onto at least 80% of its 4.9% stake until at least April 2010, but may sell the remaining 20% soon. The two companies along with Dresdner Bank bought into ICBC’s dual listing on the Hong Kong and Shanghai stock markets in 2006. At that time, the parties signed an agreement which said the foreign investors could sell up to half of their holdings in April this year and the rest in October. ICBC’s 2008 net profit rose to 36% year-on-year to US$16.2 billion, up from US$11.93 billion in 2007, making it the world’s most profitable bank. However, ICBC admitted that the paltry profit increase of 1% in the fourth quarter of last year, was a sign of difficulties to come.
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