ICICI Bank opens in Shanghai as China, India sign $22-bn worth deals

ICICI Bank Ltd, India's biggest private sector lender by assets, opened its first branch in China today while Chinese banks have agreed to lend around $2.5 billion to India's top telecom company Bharti Airtel, as trade between Asia's two key economies looked set for a further leap.

ICICI Bank Ltd, which is also traded in New York, said the Shanghai branch got regulatory approval in March 2015.

Initially, the branch inaugurated by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during a three-day visit to boost economic ties, will have 17 staff.

India's top mobile carrier Bharti Airtel has received financing commitments of up to $2.5 billion from top Chinese banks as it tries to invest in the growth of data networks across its global operations.

Bharti Airtel, which operates in 20 countries across Asia and Africa, said China Development Bank had committed a $2 billion credit line, while Industrial and Commercial Bank of China has offered a $500 million credit line (See: Airtel receives $2.5-bn financing commitments from China's CDC, ICBC).

It signed the term sheets for the financing options in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is on an official visit to China.

The transaction, however, needs regulatory approvals, including from the Reserve Bank of India, ICICI Bank said in a statement.

These are among 26 business deals worth more than $22 billion that China and India signed in areas, including renewable energy, ports, financing and industrial parks, in addition to 24 agreements signed on Friday, an Indian embassy official said on Saturday.

Namgya C Khampa, of the Indian embassy in Beijing, said at the end of the Prime Minister's three-day visit,  that the PM sought to boost economic ties and quell anxiety over a border dispute between the neighbours.

"The agreements have a bilateral commercial engagement in sectors like renewable energy, industrial parks, power, steel, logistics finance and media and entertainment," Khampa said.

At the same time, Modi encouraged Chinese companies to embrace opportunities in India in manufacturing, processing and infrastructure, announcing "now India is ready for business" with an improved regulatory environment.