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ICBC tops list for the 1st time
Aggregated Source: Shanghai Daily: Business

THE Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, the world's largest lender by capitalization, topped the 2013 Forbes Global 2000 list as the world's biggest public company for the first time.

China Construction Bank leapt 11 places from last year to become No. 2 after ICBC in the Forbes list published yesterday.

"The top two Chinese banks rose in our ranking due to double-digit growth in both sales and profits in 2012," Forbes said. "Although profits are still growing for both banks, 2012 was their slowest annual growth rate since they went public."

The Agricultural Bank of China also jumped 11 spots to No. 8, and the Bank of China rose 10 places to No. 11.

China was the third-largest by the number of companies on the list following the United States and Japan, although the number of Chinese firms remained 136 from a year ago.

China's big-four lenders - ICBC, CCB, AgBank and BOC - posted an average 15 percent annual rise in net profit to 716 billion yuan (US$114.9 billion) last year.

But they are set to see growth in net profit slow to single digit this year and the next due to reform toward a more liberalized interest rate regime in the country, analysts said.

"Most analysts don't expect a banking crisis in China, but rising defaults and shrinking loan profitability are serious threats to the country's banking system," Forbes said.

Nine out of the top 25 companies on the list were banking giants, while four out the nine lenders were Chinese.

The only non-financial Chinese firm in the top 25 was PetroChina, the listed unit of China's biggest oil producer China National Petroleum Corp, which tied for ninth place with Berkshire Hathaway.

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