China’s four biggest commercial banks all reported faster profit growth in the first half on Wednesday as Beijing’s “regulatory windstorm” aimed at controlling financial risk boosted larger lenders at the expense of smaller ones. For the past decade, smaller lenders have far outpaced larger rivals in terms of asset and profit growth, but that trend has begun to reverse this year, according to the Financial Times. The People’s Bank of China has pushed up interest rates this year in a bid to discourage leveraged investment in the bond market, benefiting the country’s largest banks. ICBC, the world’s largest bank by assets, said net income rose 1.8% in the first half, up from 0.4% growth in 2016. Bank of China, the fourth largest, posted the fastest net income growth among big lenders, 11.5%, up from 1.9% last year. At the same time, the banking regulator has ordered banks to curb risky shadow-bank activity. This double blow has hit mid-sized banks the hardest.
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