BoCom to Set Up Branch, Leasing Unit in Shanghai Free Trade Zone

Bank of Communications Co., China’s fifth-largest lender, plans to set up a branch and transportation leasing unit in Shanghai’s free trade zone as part of a proposal to provide financial services in the area.

The lender will upgrade existing outlets in the 29 square-kilometer (11 square-mile) zone to a high-level branch receiving direct support from the bank, Vice President Qian Wenhui said at a press briefing today.

The zone, set to open next week, may liberalize interest rates, allow freer yuan convertibility and relax foreign investment restrictions as Premier Li Keqiang aims to shift the economy toward services and consumption from exports. The Shanghai-based bank, known as BoCom, is also studying plans to offer investment products in the area, Qian said.

BoCom has submitted a 300-page plan on financial services to regulators and expects lenders will be required to separate existing customer accounts in the area from accounts created after the zone is opened to prevent arbitrage and speculation, Qian said.

The proposed leasing unit will specialize in aircraft and ship leasing in the zone to take advantage of tax benefits and looser regulation, he said. The bank is also considering trusts, fund management and insurance units in the zone, according to Qian.

— With assistance by Jun Luo

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