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China's banks are world's most profitable

Gideon Spanier
Monday 02 July 2012 01:05 BST

The three most profitable banks in the world are now Chinese, illustrating how far financial power has shifted from Europe and America since the credit crunch.

Chinese banks generate 29 per cent of total global profits from the banking industry, against just 4 per cent in 2007. European bank profits fell to 6 per cent, against 46 per cent five years ago.

Industrial Commercial Bank of China is the world's most profitable bank, with pre-tax profits of $43.2bn (£27.5bn). China Construction Bank ($34.8bn) and Bank of China ($26.8bn) are also in the top three, while America's JP Morgan is fourth, according to the annual survey of 1,000 banks by The Banker magazine.

"Europe's loss is China's gain," said Brian Caplen, editor of The Banker, who added that Chinese banks were "making the type of profits that European banks can only dream about".

In a sign of how the eurozone crisis has devastated the continent's banking industry, 24 out of the 25 worst-performing banks came from within Europe.

Britain's Lloyds Banking Group was the ninth-worst performer in terms of losses, plunging $5.5bn into the red, and Royal Bank of Scotland was in 21st with a loss of $1.1bn. UK banks' share of global banking profits has halved to 5 per cent in just five years. However, Mr Caplen said: "While UK banks as a whole have suffered tremendously in terms of their share of global banking profits, the performance of individual UK banks is extremely varied. Some are making huge profits while others make huge losses."

He noted that HSBC was still the seventh most profitable bank in the world, while Barclays, under pressure over the Libor rate fixing scandal, is in 18th place in the top 1,000.

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