In a perfectly politically timed manoeuvre, just after the conclusion of President Hu Jintao’s four-day visit to the US with President Barack Obama, the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China announced that it has agreed to the first Chinese takeover of a US retail bank.
ICBC has agreed to buy 80% of Bank of East Asia’s US unit for $140 million, pending regulatory approval in both countries.
Nice timing, that. Surely Beijing-based ICBC, the world’s biggest lender by market value, didn’t make the decision without consultation with political advisers who must have virtually assured approval in China and with advisers who suggested it would likely fly in America.
From a purely...