ICBC to provide Singapore companies with up to $10.2b funding for infrastructure projects across Asia

Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC)'s leaflets are displayed at its branch in Beijing, China, on March 30, 2016.
Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC)'s leaflets are displayed at its branch in Beijing, China, on March 30, 2016.PHOTO: REUTERS

SINGAPORE - The Singapore branch of China's largest bank, ICBC, will extend up to RMB50 billion (S$$10.2 billion) in funding to Singapore companies for infrastructure projects across Asia.

The moves comes under an agreement signed on Monday (Sept 19) between the Singapore Business Federation (SBF) and the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC), Singapore branch, to establish and develop long-term cooperation in line with China's "One Belt, One Road" (OBOR) initiative to invest in and develop trade routes in the region.

As the world's largest RMB (renminbi) bank and Singapore's sole RMB clearing bank, ICBC said it intends to provide up to RMB50 billion in financing services and project financing structure to support SBF member companies in OBOR infrastructure projects across Asia.

Both parties will also promote Small & Medium Enterprises (SMEs) collaboration and business matching between SBF member companies and ICBC Singapore customers through networking sessions and business missions.

The memorandum of understanding with SBF - and other agreements with Singapore Press Holdings, Singapore Exchange, Surbana Jurong and Sinochem International Corporation - were inked at an inaugural forum on infrastructure financing and cooperation under the OBOR initiative held on Monday morning (Sept 19) at the Four Seasons hotel.

Mr Liew Mun Leong, chairman of Surbana Jurong and Changi Airport Group said, "With this MOU, Surbana Jurong will partner ICBC to offer its global clientele a full suite of comprehensive financial and engineering expertise for major urban and infrastructure projects in the 'One Belt, One Road' region."

"Our expertise in urban planning, engineering, project management and facilities management services fully complement ICBC's financial related services."

Mr Yi Huiman, chairman of the board of directors and executive board of directors at ICBC, said that ICBC's Singapore branch has 20 Belt and Road projects in reserve that involve about US$3 billion of financing. He highlighted that it was the first Chinese financial institution to set up a team specializing in the bond market, promoting Singapore's RMB bond market development.

He said that going forward, ICBC wanted to strengthen cooperation in financing with an eye to infrastructure construction in Southeast Asia.

"We will provide enterprises with 'one-stop' financial services, including international settlement, global cash management, financial market transactions, investment banking and asset management, that reflect Singapore's market characteristics and build on ICBC Group's resources."

Mr Lim Hng Kiang, Minister for Trade and Industry (Trade), said that Singapore and Chinese companies share complementary strengths and can work together in third-country markets.

He cited the partnership of Singapore engineering company ISDN partnering with China Huadian Engineering, one of China's largest power and industrial players to develop mini-hydropower projects across Indonesia since 2014.

He urged more of such partnerships between Singapore and China.