ANZ to spend $300 million on expansion of its China network

Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd (ANZ), Australia's third-largest lender, intends to spend $300 million to more than triple the size of its network in China, the fastest-growing of the world's major economies.

The number of outlets would be hiked to 20 in the next five to 10 years, up from the six at present, according to the Melbourne-based lender. The capital increase, which would require regulatory approval, is the first since the bank invested $395 million while incorporating its Chinese unit in 2010.

ANZ Bank, an Australian ''pillar-lender'', joined  rivals including HSBC Holdings Plc and DBS Group Holdings Ltd in boosting investment in China as demand for financial services fell in the domestic market. The combined profit of foreign banks from China more than doubled to a record 16.7 billion yuan last year.

''The economy is still very well-placed to expand,'' chief executive officer Mike Smith said in an interview in Beijing yesterday. ''At the moment, the emphasis has to be on business here in China.''

ANZ Bank also planned to keep up the pace of hiring in China at the level of the growth rate over the past four years, which saw the lender increase its China workforce from less than 100 to close to 700 people now, Smith said.

According to Charles Li, chief executive officer of ANZ China, was a ''significant'' part of the bank's plan to earn as much as 30 per cent of profit from the Asia-Pacific region outside Australia and New Zealand by 2017, Charles Li. The share stood at 15 per cent in November, when the time of announcement of the target.