ICBC comes out of the cold

ICBC''s purchase of Union Bank could be the thin edge of the wedge for Hong Kong''s banks as Chinese banks seek international expertise

The purchase of 53% of Union Bank in Hong Kong by the mainland's Industrial and Commercial Bank of China ICBC comes as no surprise. ICBC has been in the open market for the last two months buying nearly 7% of the Hong Kong-listed bank. However, the move by ICBC could be a precursor to wider changes in theáHong Kong banking sector.

ICBC is buying the stake in Union Bank from fellow state-owned company China Merchants. In this regard, the purchase is little more than asset shifting by the State Council in Beijing between its various organs of state. Admittedly it probably makes sense for a bank to hold shares in another bank rather...

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