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CICC to buy 35% of Zheshang

CICC to buy 35% of Zheshang

Write: Erebus [2011-05-30]

The investment bank may become first domestic securities firm to take control of a trust, says source

CICC to buy 35% of Zheshang

BEIJING - China International Capital Corp (CICC), the nation's top-ranked investment bank last year, is set to become the first domestic securities firm to take control of a trust, said a person with direct knowledge of the matter.

CICC expects to get approval from the banking regulator in about a month to buy 35 percent of Hangzhou-based Zheshang Trust Co, said the person, who declined to be identified as the information is confidential. CICC will name Managing Director John Cheng as general manager of Zheshang and appoint most executives for the first three years, the person said.

Acquiring the trust would allow CICC's clients to lend to companies by buying credit-related trust products, the person said. Foreign rivals including Morgan Stanley have invested in the trusts, which charge higher loan rates and offer more financial products, as policymakers tighten curbs on local banks to curb inflation.

"Trust companies are like department stores for the financial sector," said Li Yang, an analyst at Use Trust, a Nanchang-based consulting and research firm for the Chinese trust industry. "Securities companies can expand their playing field to include businesses that otherwise are off limits to them, including lending", using the trusts, he said.

Yang Guang, a spokesman for CICC, declined to comment. A press officer at the China Banking Regulatory Commission, who asked not to be named citing the agency's policies, declined to comment.

Trusts, which are overseen by the banking regulator, typically collect funds from individuals and companies without guaranteeing returns and invest the proceeds.

Loans from trusts are growing in demand in China, the world's second-biggest economy, after the central bank this month raised reserve requirements for the biggest lenders to a record 21 percent to restrain inflation and lending that exceeded economists' estimates in April. Last month, lenders were also ordered to conduct new stress tests on property loans and demand faster repayment on government debt.

The measures led Chinese banks to issue 2.24 trillion yuan ($358 billion) of new loans in the first quarter, 14 percent less than the same period a year ago, according to the central bank. Industrial & Commercial Bank of China Ltd, the nation's largest, in March said it will expand credit at the slowest pace in three years.

Those restrictions have led Chinese developers, for instance, to pay interest and fees totaling between 17 and 20 percent of loans to borrow from trust companies, according to a May 17 report to clients from Standard Chartered PLC. Foreign banks that have bought stakes in Chinese trusts include New York-based Morgan Stanley and Barclays PLC.

In 2008, Morgan Stanley got regulatory approval to buy 19.9 percent of Hangzhou Industrial & Commercial Trust Co. The Wall Street bank is now working with the trust to raise a 1.5 billion yuan local currency fund for their joint venture private equity firm, according to a May 18 statement.

A unit of London-based Barclays in 2008 acquired a 19.5 percent stake in New China Trust Co, according to the trust's website and annual report.

Domestic lenders led by China Construction Bank Corp, the nation's second largest, have also invested in such companies. Beijing-based Construction Bank owns 67 percent of a trust company, while smaller rival Bank of Communications Co holds 85 percent of another.

CICC may take a 35 percent stake in a trust after its restructuring, the 21st Century Business Herald reported on Dec 28, citing a person it didn't name.

Zhejiang International Business Group Co, an international trading and property development company backed by provincial government, holds more than 50 percent of closely held Zheshang Trust.

Bloomberg News