Ping An Insurance last week submitted a bid for a stake of more than 60% in Shenzhen Commercial Bank, the mainland's oldest and largest city commercial bank, the South China Morning Post reported. The Shenzhen bank reported a book value of US$266 million at the end of 2004 – the latest period for which detailed financial data is publicly available – which could value the stake on offer at about US$500 million. The bank had a 7.92% non-performing loan ratio at the end of 2004 on total loans of US$4.9 billion. Bank of East Asia and Bank of Communications have also put in bids, but Ping An is believed to be the frontrunner. Ping An, the mainland's second-largest insurance group, owns 73% of Ping An Bank. However, the bank is considered a foreign bank under Chinese regulations and faces a regulatory restriction on its operations, such as a ban on offering yuan business and credit cards to mainland citizens until December. A stake in the Shenzhen bank would give it a long sought-after domestic banking license.