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Customers leave an ICBC branch in Beijing/AFP

World

Wells Fargo deposes China’s ICBC as world’s biggest bank

Customers leave an ICBC branch in Beijing/AFP

Customers leave an ICBC branch in Beijing/AFP

SHANGHAI, Jul 24 – The Industrial & Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) has lost its standing as the world’s largest bank by market capitalisation to US-based Wells Fargo, data showed Wednesday, as China’s economy slows.

San Francisco-based Wells Fargo & Co. is worth $236 billion, according to the New York Stock Exchange, where it is listed, while Chinese figures show ICBC is now valued at $223 billion.

ICBC’s six-year reign as the world’s biggest bank began in July 2007, and its value peaked at $374 billion in November that year thanks to China’s rapid economic expansion, and stood as a symbol of the country’s emergence as a global powerhouse.

But it was deposed on July 12 and Wells Fargo has retained top spot since.

The shift comes at a time when the world’s second largest economy is losing steam, and a liquidity crunch last month exposed risks in the banking system, sending financial stocks into a tailspin.

China’s economy expanded 7.5 percent year-on-year in the April-June period, slowing from 7.7 percent in the previous three months.

In June, a shortage of funds on China’s interbank market sent the interest rates banks charge to lend to each other to record highs, raising worries over the health of the financial sector.

China last week announced a long-awaited interest rate liberalisation, removing a floor on banks’ lending rates, but the move sparked worries that narrower interest margins could erode earnings.

As of midday Wednesday, ICBC was down 0.51 percent at 3.91 yuan in Shanghai and 0.20 percent lower at HK$5.09 in Hong Kong.

Wells Fargo closed down 0.13 percent at $44.57 on Tuesday.

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