Did Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) feel a bit like a jilted lover this morning? For all the affirmations loyalty and ongoing cooperation last night from two of the bank’s foreign strategic investors – American Express and Goldman Sachs – the marriage seems unlikely to last. American Express said ICBC can keep the credit card joint venture (and the pot plants?), but it was likely to leave later this year. Goldman Sachs, meanwhile, is doing the honorable thing and sticking around – minus 20% of its stake – until 2010 (but only for the kids?). Both AmEx and Goldman might find themselves murmuring “Darling, it’s not you, it’s me” as they finally slip out the door. The foreign investors are bailing out of China’s Big Four banks primarily because of capital concerns at home. ICBC, on the other hand, is still the world’s largest lender by market capitalization, with US$16.2 billion in profit to its name in 2008, up 36% year-on-year. However, ICBC has to make do with third place on the Hong Kong earnings leaderboard, behind PetroChina and China Mobile. The former has managed to hold on to top spot despite seeing its net profit decline for the first time since 2001. A particularly unfriendly fourth quarter is a sign of things to come in the oil sector as demand weakens due to the economic slowdown. PetroChina is even losing custom from the Chinese government as Premier Wen Jiabao’s austerity drive requires a 20% cut in officials’ fuel budgets.