UniCredit sees corporate expansion driving its Chinese mainland growth

Updated: 2012-02-16 07:57

By Qiu Quanlin (China Daily)

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GUANGZHOU - The European debt crisis has had little impact on Italy-based UniCredit SpA's expansion in China, as the outlook for European companies to invest in the country is promising, a top bank official said on Wednesday.

"After an economic contraction at the end of last year, there are now increasing signs that economic activity is stabilizing in the European market," said CEO Federico Ghizzoni.

Financial market tensions in Europe have eased in the past couple of months, aided by the European Central Bank's unprecedented liquidity measures and convincing fiscal consolidation and structural reforms in Italy and Spain, Ghizzoni said.

"As a result, I don't think the debt crisis will negatively affect our business in China," he said.

"The Chinese market is increasingly crucial for European exporters and investors, and for foreign banks like us," Ghizzoni added.

UniCredit provides services for more than 1,000 Italian companies and some 4,000 German companies doing business in China.

UniCredit sees corporate expansion driving its Chinese mainland growth

"We will follow our European customers, especially German and Italian ones, who want to develop their business in China," the official said.

After completing a capital increase in January, the bank achieved a Tier One capital- adequacy ratio of 10.35 percent, making the Milan-based lender the best-capitalized bank in Italy and among the best-capitalized in Europe.

UniCredit raised nearly 7.5 billion euros ($10 billion) in fresh funds.

"Despite today's challenging global economic environment, our capital increase ensures that the group is rock-solid," said Ghizzoni.

After launching a new branch in Guangzhou, capital city of Guangdong province, on Wednesday, UniCredit will focus on helping its customers grow through expansion in the Chinese market, said Ghizzoni.

"The Pearl River Delta is one of China's most economically dynamic regions, and we are driven to support the next stage of its economic growth," he said.

"We are also aiming to become a major resource for Chinese enterprises to develop and expand their businesses into countries and regions where the bank is present," he said.

UniCredit has a Shanghai branch that offers a wide range of products and services, such as local- and foreign-currency deposits and loans and global transaction banking services.

The bank, which entered China in 1996, saw loans in the nation increase 100 percent last year, while profits rose 40 percent, according to officials at the bank.

"We are waiting for the Chinese regulatory authorities to approve licenses for us to convert the Beijing representative office into a branch.

"We are also looking for expansion in inland Chinese cities such as Chengdu and Chongqing," Ghizzoni said.

China Daily