THE world's largest bank, the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, has opened a branch in Collins Street as it expands in Australia.
The Melbourne office is ICBC's third in Australia after Sydney and Perth. It will focus on developing business outside the resources sector, attracting Australian and Chinese corporate and private clients.
"[The] Melbourne branch will be mainly focusing on sectors including agriculture, property and infrastructure, healthcare as well as renewable energy and natural resources," said Wang Lili, an executive director of ICBC's global board and senior executive vice-president, who opened the branch.
Apart from corporate clients, the Chinese bank also wants a slice of the lucrative market of private wealth management, tapping into an influx of cashed-up Asian investors and migrants settling in Australia.
"We are looking to partner with local wealth management firms and expect to become one of the main participants in this sector," Ms Wang said.
George Boubouras, head of investment strategy and consulting at UBS, said there was a clear trend of wealthy Chinese nationals looking to invest money abroad.
"Canada, the US, Hong Kong, Singapore and Australia are natural recipients of migration of that level and that would continue," he said.
The Australian government has recently introduced a special visa category - significant investor - to attract affluent migrants. Under the scheme, investors need to invest at least $5 million in government bonds, managed funds or unlisted private companies to qualify for permanent residency in Australia.
ICBC, the world's largest bank in terms of profitability, market capitalisation and customer deposits, opened its Sydney office in 2008, followed by a Perth branch last year.
The West Australian operation was part of its strategy of developing it into a "resource bank", Ms Wang said.