ICBC seeking registration as a bank branch in New Zealand
By Rebecca Howard
April 3 (BusinessDesk) - Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC), the world’s largest bank by assets, is in the process of applying for a branch licence to operate in New Zealand, following in the footsteps of Bank of China and China Construction Bank.
"Yes, we are in the process. We hope it can be registered in the second half of the year," ICBC New Zealand chief executive Karen Hou told BusinessDesk. ICBC's New Zealand subsidiary has been registered to operate in New Zealand since November 2013.
"With the dual licence, we expect to be restricted less" and to support more local infrastructure projects, said Hou.
According to the Reserve Bank, locally incorporated subsidiaries are separate legal entities from the parent bank. They are required, among other things, to maintain minimum capital requirements in New Zealand and have their own board of directors, including independent directors. ICBC New Zealand is chaired by former Reserve Bank governor Don Brash.
In contrast, bank branches are essentially an extension of the parent bank with the ability to leverage the global bank balance sheet, in particular for larger lending transactions.
Late last week the central bank said it had registered Bank of China to provide banking services in New Zealand as a branch. Its New Zealand unit has been registered since November 2014.
ICBC also follows the China Construction Bank, which was registered late last year and which has had a local unit since July 2014.
There are currently 26 registered banks in New Zealand.