Bank of Beijing, one of China's largest city commercial banks, plans to open at least 10 outlets in the northern city of Tianjin, including the city's Binhai New Area, in the next three years, the bank's top management said yesterday.
The bank, the second of the country's 117 city commercial banks to be allowed to venture beyond its home base, yesterday opened its Tianjin branch, the first one outside Beijing.
Earlier this year, the Bank of Shanghai opened a branch in Ningbo in East China's Zhejiang Province.
Such an expansion will help city commercial banks compete when their bigger foreign rivals launch renminbi services for individuals at the end of this year, in line with China's World Trade Organization commitments.
"The establishment of the Tianjin branch is a strategic move to better integrate resources, build networks and meet growing customer demands," said Yan Bingzhu, chairman of Bank of Beijing.
According to him, expanding into Tianjin is a natural choice, given the close economic and geographic relationship between Beijing and the city.
The central government's decision to make Tianjin a financial hub in the north, and designate the Binhai New Area as an experimental zone for comprehensive reforms, has brought development opportunities for financial institutions in the city.
A group of foreign banks have shown interest in setting up outlets in the Binhai New Area, said Zhang Hua, chief of the Tianjin bureau of the China Banking Regulatory Commission.
"Japan's Mizuho Bank has applied for it and is likely to be the first to win approval to set up a branch in the area by the end of the year," Zhang said.
Cui Jindu, Tianjin's vice-major, said the city welcomes financial institutions from home and abroad to develop businesses.
Jiang Deyao, assistant president of Bank of Beijing, was appointed as the head of the Tianjin branch, which will focus on both corporate and individual services by using its brand advantage and its strategic partner ING's strength in products and technology.
The branch, on its opening day, signed co-operation deals with six companies in Tianjin, including Tianjin TEDA Investment Holding Co and Tianjin Fisheries Group.
"The expansion into Tianjin shows our transformation from a local commercial bank to a national one," Yan said, adding that it is only "the first step in the bank's national expansion." In addition to expansion in Tianjin, Bank of Beijing will speed up its expansion in cities around the Bohai Area.
It is also planning more outlets in the Yangtze and Pearl River Delta regions, officials revealed earlier.
With better performance than most city commercial banks, Bank of Beijing's capital adequacy ratio stood at beyond 13 per cent by the end of September.