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The launch of market leading home loan rates by subsidiaries of China's main banks signals a more active role in retail banking here. We profile the institutions

The launch of market leading home loan rates by subsidiaries of China's main banks signals a more active role in retail banking here. We profile the institutions

By David Chaston

Some of the lowest home loan rates available in New Zealand now are from Chinese banks operating here.

China Construction Bank is offering 3.19% to borrowers for fixed rate contracts of one, two and three years. Even their five year offer is a very low 3.45%.

HSBC has fixed rate offers of 3.35% for all durations from one to five years.

These rates are far below offers from most others.

In addition, Bank of China (NZ) has recently split its offers between 'standard' and 'specials'. And now they have launched a 3.15% home loan rate for one and two year fixed rate contracts.

Most home loan borrowers will know very little about these banks. But they are probably here to stay and their retail profile will undoubtedly grow.

This article is a basic primer of who they are and the options they offer retail customers.

The largest of these banks is HSBC. It operates in New Zealand as a branch of the main Hong Kong SAR institution, "The Hong Kong & Shanghai Banking Corporation Limited", rather than as a New Zealand incorporated subsidiary. That means they are a direct component of the Hong Kong bank. As such, they don't have a separate legal entity here and utilise the vast capital resources of the main bank. HSBC is a huge publicly traded corporation with global reach. It is not a state-owned enterprise. (In this regard, HSBC NZ is different to HSBC Australia which is an incorporated subsidiary there).

HSBC was first registered to operate as a branch here in July 1987.

The other three Chinese-owned banks are all subsidiaries here, incorporated in New Zealand and with their own capital structure and governance locally. Each has incorporated them with US$100 mln capital. The RBNZ regulates them like any other bank.

HSBC in New Zealand is currently about the size (in assets) of the other three mainland-China-owned banks combined. But this may change quickly as each of the others rolls out more aggressive retail positions in New Zealand. The launch of China Construction Bank's (CCB-NZ) 3.19% fixed mortgage rate offer could be seen as a signal for a more active retail presence outside its core origins in the Chinese immigrant community. The follow-up by Bank of China with its 3.15% rates is confirmation.

China's banks came because of the China:New Zealand Free Trade Agreement which was signed in April 2008. It was a ground-breaking agreement for China with a Western economy.

Another reason these banks are here is they want to be represented on the southern flank of the One-Belt-One-Road infrastructure program that China is promoting. This is a huge project to build a logistics infrastructure that focuses on China, to match the existing American/European systems that already exist.

But while these trade opportunities may have been the initial motivation to set up here, the retail opportunities will be developed as well.

There are three mainland China banks with subsidiaries here.

Bank of China

Bank of China (New Zealand) Limited was launched in Auckland, New Zealand in November, 21, 2014. They say they are "on a dynamic journey to achieve our vision of becoming New Zealand’s leading global bank." In 2016 they signed Fonterra as a client with a $300 mln multi-currency bank facility including a Chinese currency component.

Their dominant activity is full-service corporate banking.

This bank offers retail banking including home loans, savings and deposit accounts, and wealth management services.

They have one location at 205 Queen Street, Auckland, but full online services. Its local equity investment is NZ$231.6 mln. Local directors include Chris Tremain, Ruth Richardson, and Sinead Horgan. It is a subsidiary of a state-owned parent based in Beijing.

China Construction Bank

CCB NZ provides corporate banking services, private banking services aimed at immigrants, treasury services, and some personal banking services including home loans. They offer term deposit or savings services to personal clients on a relationship basis.

China Construction Bank NZ was registered by the Reserve Bank of New Zealand in July 2014. This subsidiary has local equity of NZ$223.2 mln as at June 30, 2019.

They have one location at the Vero Centre, 48 Shortland Street, Auckland, and full online services are coming soon. John Shewan is the acting Chairman of the local subsidiary after Jenny Shipley recently resigned. It is a subsidiary of a state-owned parent based in Beijing.

[This section for CCB has been updated.]

ICBC (Industrial & Commercial Bank of China)

ICBC offers full service banking in New Zealand for both personal and corporate clients.

It was first registered here in November 2013 and has an equity investment of $241.4 mln as at June 2019.

It has one branch at the corner of Quay Street and Queen Street in Auckland. Don Brash is the chairman of the local subsidiary. It is a subsidiary of a state-owned parent based in Beijing.

Of China's four pillar state-owned banks, only the Agricultural Bank of China is not here.

Including HSBC, these four banks have loans due from New Zealand clients worth NZ$8.8 bln and that is a mere 2.0% of all bank lending in New Zealand.

  Total lending Mortgage lending market share
June 2019 NZ$ mln NZ$ mln %
HSBC 4,260.3 1,939.6 0.7%
Bank of China 1,681.4 841.8 0.3%
China Construction Bank 1,123.2 666.6 0.2%
ICBC 1,695.7 544.8 0.3%
Total these three mainland banks 4,500.3 2,053.2 0.8%
Total including HSBC 8,760.6 3,992.8 1.5%
Total all banks in New Zealand $ 446,650 $ 263,334 100%

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The involvement of ex-politicians in these banks concerns me. We know they're not "breaking the law", but anyone familiar with Chinese business will understand that these people are hired for their "connections" as opposed to their banking expertise. Shipley, Tremain & co are essentially on a gravy train. Personally, I think it stinks.

You should vote for a government that tightens FMA's rule to address your concern.
If it is not breaking the law, it is not breaking the law.

I think it goes deeper than that. Nothing to do with the FMA. It's more to do with politicians being able to wield power and influence post-career to feather their own nests over national interests. An illustration of this is the 99-year leasing of Darwin port, which was partly enabled by fixing from a retired politician "consultant."

"....but anyone familiar with Chinese business will understand that these people are hired for their "connections" as opposed to their banking expertise...."

Your observation says little about Chinese business. How about Air NZ getting John Key on the Board?
"See Asia instead of feel Asia". I would suggest you a Wendy Wu Tour to China while it is on sale.

China has learned well the 'Revolving door game play' from the west and is adept at using it elsewhere, except in China.

.........& so the circle is have been assimilated
Pity the governments of NZ both National & Labour failed to extract a better price from the Chinese Communist Party & arrange much needed infrastructure funding & construction before leaving the gate open
Enjoy the cheap rates there will be a heavy price called “control”

1.5% is assimilation? !! I suspect your bias is getting away with you here.

You don't believe 1.5% is likely to increase? Seems that it has only been recently these banks have taken the aggressive route.

It's because the construction industry is failing due to their high house prices that are not in line with NZ wages. They're having to switch to residential mortgages to increase business, it's just good business practice really. What NZ needs to ensure is that the Chinese banks are regulated and not unregulated money laundering "Shadow Banking" outfits that we do not want to see here in NZ at any cost! Another reason NOT to vote National back in!

Come David
I think China has more than a 1.5% grip on New Zealand
I suggest you visit the largest secondary school in the country to check out the “only 1.5%” too !
My entire street was bought out by Chinese
Heck even John Key sold his mansion to Chinese
I had US friends just return from NZ who were shown around Auckland by their taxi driver who explained how much Auckland had changed
& they came back to Boston telling me 95% of Auckland was Chinese !
Yes they’re wrong but I couldn’t convince them otherwise
I know Chinese friends who have commented to me upon visiting Auckland they wondered where the NZers were but I take your point “it’s only 1.5%”
Rest easy then now the CCP banking system is undercutting NZ & Au banks for mortgages I’d expect yet another lever of control by China to fall into place over NZ. Or I could be wrong ?

.......& so the circle is have been assimilated
An international banking trend:

[TAIPEI] JPMorgan Chase & Co, which is in the process of building its presence in China, has told some staff to ensure that they don't refer to Hong Kong, Macau or self-governing Taiwan as separate countries. Link

Mostly agree to both above comments. At this stage however I'm happy to fork out more not to be indirectly indebted to CCP.

Based on their pitiful websites the Chinese banks won't be a threat to anyone. Cheap and nasty springs to mind.

cheap and nasty sounds bad enough

I am sick of being reaped off by AUS banks and switching to ICBC, the largest bank in the world.

Good on you Chinese banks for bringing competitions, lower mortgage rates, better services, and a more stable financial sector in New Zealand. We need more of you!

OK Buddy

He is right, I believe they are the largest bank by non performing assets.


You should have gone with a western name so readers could only guess if you were a Chinese infiltrator.

Maybe his name is Don Brash in mandarin??

Competition and lower mortgage rates, sure.

Better services, and a more stable financial sector?
Erm... not so sure about that.
Their transactional & online services, based on their website, seem very primitive.
How do their branch structures create a more stable system?

Just wait until they pay you in RMB when you sell your house and discharge the mortgage.

Just wait until they pay you in RMB when you sell your house and discharge the mortgage.

They will even determine the currency value for you.


Please David, enough of this Chinese clown bot.

Obviously, you cannot handle the truths.

Any factual based positive news and comments on China will annoy you.

I think you are very brainwashed and hold very biased opinions on China.

Although I often disagree with you I do hope you keep posting since you do produce some good points. Is it wise for NZ to put all its faith in Aussie banks? Putting excessive faith in mother England wasn't wise.
I probably share your belief in the remarkable ability of the people of China; where we disagree is you have faith in the govt of China. Unfortunately the govt of China has effective control of all Chinese companies and institutions so I will not be committing all my savings and future to any Chinese bank.

Is it me or is the 1st time the CCP Parody Bot felt riled enough to actually reply on a thread?

wow, pot kettle.

More stable? Have you looked at BOC on the RBNZ dashboard? Worrying level of non performing loans relative to NZ market

To be fair it’s not competition the Chinese banks have in mind Well certainly not what the Chinese Communist Party has in mind
I see Balanced Life & Mister B both agree & I have translated their responses
There is no land ownership in China an Autocracy
Totally different regime from NZ
Chinese banks are controlled by the CCP
I love China & the Chinese because they’ve provided me with opportunity but not without sacrifice
I wonder if enough NZers have even considered the price ?

那么中国的财产将是中国。 不是王朝所有。

我们这里有一个完全不同的结构,我们借来拥有和保留。 中资银行的结构不是考虑到这一点,它更险恶的政权,你应该远离他们。 任何人谁购买澳大利亚和新西兰的财产,使用澳大利亚和新西兰的银行,他们将分别服务您的需要,他们也讲普通话,如果你需要。 你信任我们的财产,你信任我们的医疗保健系统,你信任我们的银行。 这也是你的自由,你也是在投资,是吗? 保护保持。

你提出了一个好点。 我怀疑买家应该小心。

Balance Life TRANSLATION :
If the Chinese can buy Chinese real estate correctly
Then China’s property will be China. Not a dynasty.
We have a completely different structure here, we borrow to own and retain. The structure of Chinese banks is not to take this into account, it is more sinister regime, you should stay away from them. Anyone who buys Australian and New Zealand properties, uses Australian and New Zealand banks, they will serve your needs separately, they also speak Mandarin if you need to. You trust our property, you trust our healthcare system, and you trust our bank. This is also your freedom, you are also investing, are you? Protection is maintained.

Mister B reply to Balanced Life comments TRANSLATION :
You made a good point. I suspect buyers should be careful

They've got to start somewhere eh. Some commentators above just highlight the short term thinking and denigrate anyone who raises concerns.

Some of them are not plain trading or commercial banks. There are investment banks which don't deal directly with retail customers.

More competition with the banks gives better more competitive rates to customer. But lets hope these banks are regulated we don't want to see unregulated money laundering "Shadow Banking" here in NZ.

I don't think it's accurate to refer to HSBC as Chinese.

It was started by British interests in British Hong Kong, and is currently a British (International) bank with headquarters in London.

I was thinking the same.

I wonder how this will affect the incentives and bank competition. Weve got 2m coming up for renewal next month. 3yrs ago an ozzy lender gave a sizable cash contribution to jump ship and commit the 36 months. Obviously it's a different market today. We are looking around..

Since when is HSBC a Chinese bank?

HSBC is part of the worldwide HSBC Group and is wholly owned by Hong Kong-based The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Limited.