Agricultural Bank now stock holding company

January 9, 2009

, SHANGHAI, January 9 – Agricultural Bank of China has been transformed into a stock-holding company, the lender said on Friday, bringing it a step closer to an eventual stock market listing.

The Ministry of Finance and Central Huijin Investment Co, a unit of the country\’s sovereign wealth fund, each has a 50 percent stake in the bank with a registered capital of 260 billion yuan (38 billion dollars), the lender said in a statement on its website.

The bank, the weakest of China\’s four major state-owned commercial banks, received a 19-billion-dollar government cash injection in November as part of its preparations for an eventual stock listing.

The introduction of shareholders demanding a return for their investment would force the bank to start operating for profits — a break from its role so far of supporting government policies, observers say.

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