Banking news in brief


JOHANNESBURG: London-listed Standard Chartered on Tuesday announced it is to open a full-service bank in South Africa, media reports said. 

The banking group, which disinvested from South Africa in the late 1980s, also confirmed it was in the process of acquiring a local online financial services firm, the Sapa news agency said. 

Standard Chartered which operates in 50 countries worldwide - 14 in Africa, has run a representative office for wholesale business in South Africa since 1992. 

Having already secured authorisation from the Reserve Bank, it planned to re-launch a retail banking business in the first quarter of 2004, officials from the group were quoted as saying. – dpa 

BEIJING: China's four largest banks - Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, Bank of China, China Construction Bank and Agricultural Bank of China - cut their non-performing loan (NPL) ratios by more than four percentage points in the first six months of the year to an average 22.19% by June, the government said Thursday. 

Although this is as much as the ratio fell during all of 2002, the China Banking Regulatory Commission, which published the data on its website, warned the figure could be deceptive and disguise a serious situation. 

The commission pointed out that one of the reasons why the NPL ratio had fallen was the rapid growth of new loans - and they could theoretically become problematic in the future. – AFP 

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