ICBC is the world's largest bank by market value. (Reuters)
Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC), the world’s largest bank by market value, has received initial approval to begin operations in Saudi Arabia.
The Kingdom’s cabinet has approved the licence for the Chinese lender to open one branch in the country, the official Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported.
The cabinet has also authorised Saudi’s finance ministry to decide whether ICBC can open other branches in the Kingdom in the future, provided the bank “abides by doing its business according to the Banks Monitoring System, Act of Companies, Foreign Investment Act and other acts, regulations and directives applicable in the Kingdom,” said SPA.
The Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency (SAMA) has been instructed to coordinate with ICBC to complete the necessary procedures, the report added.
ICBC launched its operations in the Middle East in 2008 and has been keen to expand its presence in the region. In March this year, the Chinese lender, which operates in the UAE and Qatar, announced that its regional unit made a pre-tax net profit of $32 million in 2011, up 111 per cent from 2010.
ICBC ME’s operating income also shot up 96 per cent last year to reach $49 million, it said.
In June, the Chinese lender was also granted an initial licence to open one branch in Kuwait.