Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC), currently the world’s largest lender by market value, plans to take a 70% stake in Hong Kong-based Bank of East Asia’s Canadian operation, Reuters reported. ICBC will pay BEA US$73 million for the stake. At the same time, BEA will buy out ICBC’s 75% share in the banks’ joint venture in Hong Kong, ICEA Finance, for US$48 million. The acquisition is part of ICBC’s overseas expansion plans, and follows a handful of other foreign purchases, including the purchase of a 20% stake in South Africa’s Standard Bank for US$5.6 billion. The investment comes as Beijing has begun closer regulation of overseas investments by financial institutions following Ping An Insurance Group’s failed investment in Fortis, but Jin Lin, analyst at Everbright Securities, believes this particular investment may be easier. "ICBC and Bank of East Asia share a similar culture, which would make consolidation easier," Jin said.
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