Feeding frenzy for overseas banks

From Asia Times

Foreign investments into Chinese commercial banks, which began just a few years ago, have accelerated to a frantic pace in recent months, with record-shattering deals being announced seemingly almost weekly. Three of the four big state-owned commercial banks (SOCBs) that acquired foreign funding – Bank of China (BOC), China Construction Bank (CCB), and the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) – have received the most attention from the media, as each is preparing for a listing on overseas stock exchanges within the next two years. Bank of America (BoA), UBS, Merrill Lynch, Goldman Sachs and the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) are just a few of the major foreign financial institutions that joined the bidding race. Considering the fact that the three SOCBs collectively have 900 billion yuan (US$111 billion) of non-performing loans (NPLs) on their balance sheets, why would BoA or RBS spend north of $3 billion for just a 10% non-controlling equity stake in a Chinese bank? There is no simple answer to this question.

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