The Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) has mapped out a three-year plan to boost capital support to private businesses in response to calls for easing the financing difficulty of private enterprises.
Within three years, ICBC's inclusive loans targeting small and micro-enterprises will surge more than 30 percent annually, with the net lending to private enterprises growing by no less than 200 billion yuan (about 28.6 billion U.S. dollars) annually.
The number of new private-enterprise clients will grow by 5,000 or higher annually, said ICBC president Gu Shu in an interview with Xinhua.
Financial institutions have been mobilized to optimize their credit services and enhance their risk control capabilities amid the nationwide efforts to ease the capital shortage of private firms.
China Construction Bank (CCB), for instance, has released 26 measures to further improve financial services for private enterprises to facilitate their healthy development.
One measure is to raise a seed fund of 30 billion yuan which is expected to leverage a scale of funding worth 300 billion yuan to support the development of technological innovation-based enterprises.
While guarding against risks, CCB also plans to bring the outstanding loans for inclusive finance to 1 trillion yuan in the next three years and keep the non-performing loan ratio within 3 percent.
A key obstacle preventing capitals flowing to private enterprises somehow relates to credit clerks who are reluctant to lend out of fear of bad loans, as private enterprises, especially the smaller ones, are less capable to withstand risks, Gu said.
"It's essential to give credit clerks positive incentives and guidance, while getting rid of their burden," he said.
In the future, ICBC's grassroot outlets and credit clerks excelling in performance assessment concerning inclusive finance will be granted special rewards.
ICBC's lending procedures will be further streamlined and standardized so that credit clerks who have fulfilled their due diligence could be exempted from taking responsibility for bad loans, he said.
In other words, ICBC will be a bit more tolerant with bad loans relating to private enterprises, and the losses in revenues of subsidiary banks caused by the falling loan prices would be made up by the head office.
TOUGHER RISK CONTROL
In Gu's words, supporting private enterprises was not to "follow the fashion" but a significant part of ICBC's efforts to pursue sustainable development.
Currently, ICBC is speeding up the establishment of small and micro financial service centers where competent credit clerks who know small businesses well can get together to deal with market selection, credit approval and risk control more efficiently.
They may also use big data technology and other information available to make judgements on the business operation of small enterprises.
"For us, all enterprises are our clients, whatever ownership and size they have or whatever industries they are in. The only gauge is their performance, good or bad," said Gu.
For small enterprises who have encountered temporary difficulties but focus on their main business and have a bright prospect, ICBC promised to use all sorts of risk mitigation tools to help them pull through. On the contrary, zombie enterprises will have to be cleared out, he said.
So far, ICBC has established 230 mall and micro financial service centers, covering more than 75 percent of the bank's loans to small and micro enterprises.
Its 38 first-level subsidiary banks have set up inclusive finance departments. By the end of this year, the departments will be established in more than 400 second-level subsidiary banks.
In addition, ICBC was also trying to channel more capital to invest in the corporate bonds of private enterprises. So far, it has helped three private companies raise a total of 1.5 billion yuan through bond issuance.
In less than a month, ICBC's credit clerks have visited more than 5,000 small and micro enterprises, provided a capital support of nearly 10 billion yuan through various means and inked cooperation agreements with 100 backbone private firms.
The bank also mobilized 10,000 customer managers to conduct field surveys in private enterprises.