Chinese Banks Head for the U.S.

American banks are a bargain these daysand Chinese financial firms with big plans are buying

When Minsheng Bank started scouting for opportunities outside China's borders this summer, San Francisco's UCBH Holdings (UCBH) seemed like a perfect fit. UCBH, which serves Chinese-Americans, needed $205 million for an acquisition. Meanwhile, China's eighth-largest bank found a potential partner with expertise in private banking and risk management. On Oct. 8, Minsheng agreed to buy a 9.9% stake in UCBH—marking the first such move by a Chinese bank on U.S. soil. "This is the best time to invest in American banks," says Hong Qi, an executive vice-president at Minsheng Bank. "It's cheaper."

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