ICBC’s venture takes flight as a role model of Sino-Turkish financial cooperation
The Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, the country’s largest lender by market value, is steadily developing its business in Turkey on the back of its good performance.
The bank was the first Chinese-funded business institution to enter Turkey after it purchased the majority of shares of Tekstilbank in May 2015.
ICBC Turkey currently owns 44 branches and 20 securities business offices in 18 major Turkish cities, employing more than 900 people. It provides all-round financial services, including deposits, loans, trade financing, investment and acquisition, to both companies and individuals, with licenses for commercial banking, investment banking and asset management.
As a role model of Sino-Turkish financial cooperation, the bank has given full play to ICBC’s advantages in terms of its customers, capital, management and service networks, in a bid to support Chinese companies’ going-abroad strategies, promote the Belt and Road Initiative, serve the local economy and fulfill its social responsibilities.
Last year, ICBC Turkey was named “International Bank of the Year” for its distinguished contributions to Turkey’s economy.
Turkey is a founding member state of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, and a member of the G20.
It also plays an important role under the framework of BRI as a geographical bridge between Europe and Asia, making the country a popular market for Chinese banks going global.
In recent years, China and Turkey have had close political, economic and cultural connections, with the governments of the two countries signing a series of cooperation agreements on areas of investment, energy, agriculture and quality control.
In 2016, for example, the central banks of Turkey and China concluded their first Turkish lira-RMB swap deal worth 450 million Turkish lira ($77.16 million), enabling the use of local currencies in bilateral trade and investment. Since its establishment, ICBC Turkey has leveraged strategic opportunities brought about by the BRI and strengthened Sino-Turkish ties to ofer more convenient and comprehensive financial services to Chinese and Turkish companies.
The bank has also improved its capabilities in serving the local economy by creating tailor-made financing solutions for large-scale BRI-related projects in infrastructure, resource development and building overseas industrial parks.
ICBC Turkey has developed integrated financing services, through which it can provide customers with different types of capital such as loans, bonds and equity funds, and actively promoted the currency swap agreement inked between the two countries, as well as cross-border renminbi clearing, settlement and financing businesses.
Via its wide network in Turkey, the bank is helping Chinese companies seek new business opportunities and investment. In 2015, it provided credit support for the Kumport Terminal project, Turkey’s third-largest container terminal, acquired by three Chinese companies – the China Investment Corp, COSCO Pacific and China Merchants Holdings (International).
It has been the biggest acquisition to date by Chinese companies in Turkey, totaling $940 million.
ICBC Turkey has so far served more than 100 Chinese companies and organizations, including Huawei, China National Machinery Import and Export, and the Chinese embassy in Ankara, earning praise for its mergers and acquisitions consultation and diverse financial services.
In the past three years, ICBC Turkey has actively aligned the BRI with the Turkish Middle Corridor Plan to promote Sino-Turkish cooperation in infrastructure and production capacity.
It has established partnerships with many leading Turkish companies, including KOC Holding, the only home-grown Fortune Global 500 company in the country, and backed a number of projects to improve local livelihood such as GAMA Holding’s hydropower and SOCAR Turkey’s oil pipeline projects.
It also issued Turkey’s first public-private partnership project bond to the Elazig Hospital and financed Canakkale Bridge, a proposed suspension bridge over the Dardanelles Strait. The bank has also provided mortgage loans, credit cards and consumer loans to more than 200,000 Turkish people.
In addition to financial businesses, ICBC Turkey has paid much attention to improving the customer experience via means such as developing the English version of its online banking system and cash points, opening online application for personal loans and improving the telephone banking service in English.
It has also hired Chinese employees in key outlets and set up WeChat groups to follow up business needs of Chinese customers.
The bank also takes great care to fulfill its corporate social responsibility, employing people with disabilities, providing regular medical checkups and shuttle buses for employees in its headquarters.
It also sponsors soccer matches organized for foreign bodies based in Istanbul and makes donations to orphanages across the country.
Meanwhile, the bank has taken every opportunity to promote trade, cultural exchanges and mutual understanding between China and Turkey by participating in public diplomatic activities such as the G20 Summit in Antalya.
It has been invited to take part in several important events held in Turkey, such as the annual meetings of the Turkish Industry and Business Association, the largest chamber of commerce in the country.
Other important business events the bank has attended include the Understanding and Doing Business with China conference, energy summits, and seminars on the economy and prospects for future reform and development.
During these events, the bank has introduced China, the Chinese economic and financial environment, Chinese companies, ICBC and itself to Turkish participants to help them gain a more comprehensive understanding of the country. Last year, it invited Turkish corporate clients to attend the first China International Import Expo held in Shanghai, showing them China’s determination to expand its imports and enhance opening-up.
By Hao Nan