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Bank of China Limited
Type Public company SEHK: 3988, SSE: 601988
Founded Beijing, China (1912 (1912))
Headquarters Beijing, China
Key people Xiao Gang, Chairman
Li Lihui, President
Industry Banking
Products Financial services
Revenue RMB 228,896 million (2008)[1]
Net income RMB 65,894 million (2008)[1]
Total assets RMB 6,951.68 billion (2008)[2]
Employees 249,278

Bank of China Limited (BOC) SSE: 601988 SEHK: 3988 (simplified Chinese: 中国银行traditional Chinese: 中國銀行pinyin: Zhōngguó Yínháng; often abbreviated as 中銀 or 中行) is one of the big four state-owned commercial banks of the People's Republic of China. It was founded in 1912 by the Government of the Republic of China, to replace the Government Bank of Imperial China. It is the oldest bank in China. From its establishment until 1942, it issued banknotes on behalf of the Government of the Republic of China along with the "Big Four" banks of the period: the Central Bank of China, Farmers Bank of China and Bank of Communications. Although it initially functioned as the Chinese central bank, in 1948 the People's Bank of China replaced it in that role. Subsequently, BOC became a purely commercial bank. Forward Rate = .1345



Bank of China Headquarters, Beijing, China. (2002) Architect: I.M. Pei

Bank of China's history goes back to 1905, when the Qing government established Daqing Hubu Bank (in Chinese: 大清户部银行) in Beijing, which was in 1908 renamed to Daqing Bank (in Chinese: 大清银行). When the Republic of China was established in 1912, it was further renamed as Bank of China by President Sun Wen's government, adding a new role of the central bank. [3]

After the Chinese Civil War ended in 1949, the Bank of China effectively split into two operations. Part of the bank relocated to Taiwan with the Kuomintang (KMT) government. It was privatised in 1971 to become the International Commercial Bank of China (中國國際商業銀行). It has subsequently merged with the Taiwan Bank of Communications (Chiao Tung Bank, 交通銀行) to become the Mega International Commercial Bank (兆豐國際商業銀行). The Mainland operation is the current entity known as the Bank of China.

It is the second largest lender in China overall, and the 5th largest bank in the world by market capitalization value[4]. Once 100% owned by the central government, via Central Huijin Investment and National Council for Social Security Fund (SSF), an IPO of its shares took place in June 2006, the free float is at present over 26%.

It is the most international of China's banks, with branches on every inhabited continent. Outside of mainland China, BOC also operates in 27 countries including:

Although it is present in the above countries/territories, its operations outside China accounted for less than 4% of the activity of the bank by both profits and assets. Mainland China accounts for 60% of the bank by profits and 76% by assets as at December 2005.

Timeline of overseas expansion

Tokyo branch.
New York branch.
Bank of China building in Singapore.
  • 1917 BOC opened a branch in Hong Kong.
  • 1929 BOC opened its first overseas branch in London. The branch managed the government's foreign debt, became a center for the bank's management of its foreign exchange, and acted as an intermediary for China's international trade.
  • 1931 BOC opened a branch in Osaka.
  • 1936 BOC opened a branch in Singapore to handle remittances to China of overseas Chinese. It also opened an agency in New York.
  • 1937 At the outbreak of hostilities with Japan, Japanese forces blockaded China's major ports. BOC opened a number of branches overseas to facilitate the gathering of remittances and the flow of military supplies. BOC opened branches in Batavia, Penang, Kuala Lumpur, Haiphong, Hanoi, Rangoon, Bombay, and Calcutta. It also opened sub-agencies in Surabaya, Medan, Dabo, Xiaobo, Batu Pahat, Baichilu, Mandalay, Lashio, Ipoh, and Seremban.
  • 1941 and 1942 The Japanese conquest of South East Asia forced BOC to close all overseas its branches, agencies, sub-branches and sub-agencies, except London, New York, Calcutta, and Bombay.
  • 1942 BOC set up six new overseas branches, including those at Sydney, (Australia), Liverpool, and Havana, and possibly Karachi.
  • 1946 BOC reopened its branches and agencies in Hong Kong, Singapore, Haiphong, Rangoon, Kuala Lumpur, Penang, and Jakarta. It moved the Hanoi agency to Saigon. At the suggestion of the Allied Forces Headquarters, it liquidated the branch in Osaka and opened a sub-branch in Tokyo.
  • 1947 BOC opened agencies in Bangkok, Chittagong, and Tokyo.
  • 1950 Some of the branches of Bank of China joined the bank headquartered in Beijing — i.e., Hong Kong, Singapore, London, Penang, Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta, Calcutta, Bombay, Chittagong, Karachi, and Jakarta — while others — New York, Tokyo, Havana, Bangkok, and one other, possibly Panama — opted to remain with the Bank of China headquartered in Taipei. In 1971, this bank took the name International Commercial Bank of China.
  • 1963 The Burmese government nationalized all banks, foreign and domestic, including the Bank of China's Rangoon branch.
  • 1971 The Bank of China transferred its two branches in Karachi and Chittagong to the National Bank of Pakistan.
  • 1975 The People's Republic of Vietnam nationalized the Bank of China's branch in Saigon and the Khmer Rouge government nationalized its Phnom Phen branch.
  • 1981 BOC opened a branch in New York.
  • 2001 Kwangtung Provincial Bank was closed and merged under Bank of China, Singapore Branch.
  • 2002 Bank of China Futures Pte Ltd wound up operations in Singapore.
  • 2008 Bank of China buys 20 percent stake in La Compagnie Financiere Edmond de Rothschild (LCFR) for 236.3 million euros (US$340 million)
  • 2001-2007 Massive staff layoffs and paycuts in BOC S'pore Branch.
  • 2007 BOC S'pore Branch - Mr Zhu Hua asked to leave S'pore by the Monetary Authority of S'pore and rumoured to be posted to Bangkok, Thailand. For poor performance, he was replaced by Mdm Liu Yan Fen.
  • 2008 Head of Settlements, Mr Tan Chi Ming, Bank of China, was investigated involvement for Multi-Level Marketing Activities in S'pore; a scheme with some Bank of China and ex Kwangtung Bank Staff.[6]
  • 2009 Opened branches in São Paulo and Maputo. Reopened branch in Penang in October.
  • 2009 People's Park Remittance Centre opened in Singapore, operating 7 days a week, offering remittance and cash exchange services.
  • 2009 Ceased Sunday Banking Business in Chinatown Sub-branch in S'pore.


In the runup to the IPO, BOC solicited long term investors to take strategic stakes in the company. In October 2005, the Royal Bank of Scotland Group PLC announced a $3.1 billion investment which would give the British bank control of just under 10 percent stake in the Bank of China. Further investments were made by Swiss bank UBS AG, and by Temasek Holdings Pte. Ltd, who also promised to subscribe for an additional $500 million worth of shares during Bank of China's initial public offering.

The Bank has been investigated by the United States in its money laundering probe related to the superdollars affair.[7]


  • Its listing, on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange on June 1, 2006 was the largest IPO in the world since 2000, and the fourth largest IPO in the world ever, raising some US$9.7 billion in the H-share Global Offering. The Over-Allotment Option was then exercised on June 7, 2006, raising the total value of their IPO to US$11.2 billion.[8]
  • It successfully made the largest IPO in mainland China on July 5, 2006, by offering up to 10 billion A-shares on the Shanghai A Stock Exchange, or up to RMB20 billion. These were priced at RMB3.00 per share.
  • BOC has bought Singapore Airlines's stake in Singapore Aircraft Leasing Enterprise, in 2007 it was renamed BOC Aviation.
  • The bank held another IPO on the Shanghai Stock Exchange in 2006, raising around 20 billion yuan (US$2.5 billion).

Hong Kong

Bank of China Tower in Hong Kong.

BOC started operations in Hong Kong in 1917 and has become a major player there.[citation needed] It became note-issuing bank Hong Kong in 1994; in Macao, it received note-issuing status in 1995.

In 2001, BOC regrouped its Hong Kong operations into Bank of China (Hong Kong); then BOCHK listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange in October 2002. Two-thirds of its share capital are in free float. The bank's headquarters in Hong Kong are located in the Bank of China Tower, designed by the renowned architect I.M. Pei, and was opened to the public in 1990 as the tallest building of Hong Kong at that time.

It listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange (independently from BOCHK) (SEHK:3988) by floating the largest IPO in the world by any institution since 2000 on June 1, 2006, raising US$9.7 billion. The IPO attracted HK$286 billion (USD 36.7 billion) in retail orders and was the most heavily oversubscribed in the history of the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. The offer was around 76 times oversubscribed. Although some financial analysts advised caution due to the worrying amounts of non-performing loans, this hardly deterred investors. The IPO share price started at HK$2.95 per share and jumped 15% (to HK$3.40) after the first day of trading.

In 2008 the Bank of China was crowned Deal of the Year - Debt Market Deal of the Year at the 2008 ALB Hong Kong Law Awards[9].

Basic facts

Bank of China branch in Dalian.
  • It has over RMB 6,951.68 Billions in assets, making it in the Fortune Global 500 for the past 17 years.
  • It is the no.2 lender in China overall, the no.1 lender to non-institutions, and the no.1 foreign exchange lender. (The no.1 lender in China is the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China)
  • In 2002, it made RMB52.7 billion profit, an increase of over 20 per cent from the previous year.
  • Bank of China owns the 7th tallest building in the world
  • Besides sharing the same name, all overseas branches have nothing to do with Bank of China branches in China. That means that if you deposit money to China branch, you cannot access your money in overseas branches.
  • Internet banking on this bank only available for RMB balances only.


Although it is not a central bank, the Bank of China is licensed to issue banknotes in two of China's Special Administrative Regions. Until 1942, the Bank of China issued banknotes in mainland China on behalf of the Government of the Republic of China. Today, the Bank issues banknotes in Hong Kong and banknotes in Macau (under the Portuguese name "Banco Da China"), along with other commercial banks in those regions.


As of June 7, 2006, following the Hong Kong IPO, the ownership of the Bank of China (SEHK:3988) was:

  • Central SAFE Investments Limited (an investment arm of the government of the People's Republic of China): 69.265%
  • RBS China: 8.467% (4.26% for the benefit of RBS, the remainer held as custodian for the interests of billionaire Li Ka-shing)
  • AFH Pte. Ltd. (a wholly owned subsidiary of Temasek): 4.765%
  • National Council for Social Security Fund (PRC state pension fund): 4.576%
  • UBS AG: 1.366%
  • ADB: 0.205%
  • Investors who received H shares from the Global Offering (IPO): 11.356%

Li Ka-shing, RBS, Temasek and UBS were contracted to hold their shares until 31 December 2008. All four sold their holdings on the open market in early January 2009.

See also


  • Bank of China, A History of the Bank of China, 1912-1949, Beijing: 1999.

External links


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