By N. Malliara
International banking giant Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) is seriously considering its entry into the Greek market, according to reports in Athens this week.
Executives with ICBC, ranked as the largest banking institution in the world in the Forbes index for 2017, have already met with top officials at the Bank of Greece (BoG) and with Greek government officials, including the prime minister's top economic aide deputy minister to the premier D. Liakos, in order to express interest in entering the country's still crisis-battered credit sector. In the initial phase, ICBC is considering the option of opening a subsidiary.
The same reports pointed to the Greek side as promoting a "European passport" scheme for ICBC, i.e. an already active ICBC subsidiary in another EU member-state.
The Hong Kong-listed multinational's primary focus is investments in the banking sector, infrastructure, industry as well as retail operations.
A looming ICBC presence in Greece is directly linked to significant Chinese investments in the east Mediterranean country, particularly in shipping, port management, energy and real estate. Direct Chinese investments in Greece are currently valued at seven billion euros.
ICBC currently has a presence in 42 countries around the world.