ICBC tops world banks ranking: The Banker

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LONDON, July 1 (Xinhua) -- The Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) has moved from third to first place in The Banker's Top World Banks ranking this year, on the back of a 15-percent increase in capital, announced The Banker, a global banking and finance service, on Monday.

ICBC's performance marks a new high in the growing strength of the Chinese banks, The Banker said on its press release.

China's second largest bank, the China Construction Bank (CCB), also saw its capital grow by 15 percent and dislodged Citigroup from the fifth place.

China now has 96 banks in The Banker's Top 1,000 ranking and holds four places in the Top 10. This includes the ICBC, CCB, Bank of China and Agricultural Bank of China.

Last year's winner, the Bank of America, fell back to the third while JP Morgan stayed as the second. The only British bank in the top 10 list is the HSBC in the fourth place, thanks to significant earnings from its Asian operations, the ranking showed.

"For several years now European and American banks have been stagnant and shrinking while Chinese banks have been expanding in line with the growth in the Chinese economy. On most measures they now score as well or better than Western banks but their big test will be how they cope as China's growth slows over the next few years," said Brian Caplen, editor of The Banker.

The total profits of the Top 1,000 banks are now close to pre-crisis levels overall, but their distribution is very uneven, The Banker said.

"Before the crisis European banks accounted for 46 percent of global profits and 58 percent of total assets (2006). Now they have 43 percent of assets and a meager 1.58 percent of profits. Asia's banks have moved in the other direction increasing their assets from 22 percent of the total to 35 percent and their profits from 19 percent to 56 percent," according to The Banker.

One of the best European performers is Turkey where bank profits grew by 37 percent. Spanish banks together lost 73 billion U.S. dollars. In a table of the 10 largest losses six of the banks are Spanish.

Globally, Africa's banks have doubled their share of profits from 1.15 percent in 2006 to 2.31 percent, and central and south America's share has nearly tripled from 2.37 percent to 6.37 percent over the same period.

The Banker's Top 1000 World Banks ranking has been setting the industry benchmark since 1970.