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ING Group bets big on China's trade initiatives

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BEIJING, Aug. 8 (Xinhuanet) -- ING Group NV is looking to grab a major slice of the business opportunities arising from the outbound moves of Chinese companies and will accordingly expand its banking facilities in the country, a top official said.

The Netherlands-based multinational financial corporation expanded its commercial banking presence in China on Thursday by upgrading its Beijing representative office into a full-service branch. The new branch will help it achieve revenue growth of more than 15 percent in China, said Aart Jan den Hartog, head of commercial banking for China at ING Bank.

Hartog said the lender was confident of tapping opportunities from the booming outbound investment by Chinese firms, which is expected to reach $22 trillion by 2020.

China's ambitious Belt and Road Initiative to revive the ancient Silk Road and the newly established Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank as well as the $40 billion Silk Road Fund will also boost business opportunities for ING Bank in China, he said.

The Dutch bank has teamed up State-owned lender and credit insurer China Export and Credit Insurance Corp to provide trade financing services for the locomotive exports of a Chinese manufacturer, said Hartog.

It has also worked with the Silk Road Fund to provide financing services for a Chinese company's acquisition of an Italian tire producer.

"We need to boost our transactions here...and put more people on the ground because our clients need it," he said, noting that the goal of bank is to be the "most preferred" European bank for Chinese clients.

ING Bank's moves in China reflect the strong desire of foreign banks to explore business opportunities with Chinese companies that are boosting overseas investment in areas like infrastructure, transportation, utilities, energy and resources under the Belt and Road Initiative.

The United Kingdom-based Asia-focused lender Standard Chartered Plc has also expressed similar interests. "We need to grab the new opportunity in the trend... and seek new development for our business of cash management and trade finance in China," Xu Sheng, StanChart's managing director for China told reporters recently .

Hartog from ING Bank said the bank's extensive network spread over more than 21 countries along the land-based and maritime silk roads will give it an edge in winning Chinese clients.

The group saw its net profit increase by 27.4 percent year-on-year to $1.48 billion in the second quarter of this year. The core capital adequacy ratio of ING Bank stood at 11.3 percent, according to its latest financial statement.

Its Beijing branch at present offers foreign currency denominated products and services, including lending, deposit, trade and acquisition finance.

Jan Hu, general manager of the Beijing branch, said that the lender would soon apply for a yuan business license to take advantage of China's efforts in promoting the internationalization of its currency.

The bank is also eyeing opportunities from the further opening up of the Chinese interbank bond market to foreign players and looking to participate in bond trading, Hu said.

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