Banks from China and Japan secured their positions as the largest lenders in Asia-Pacific by total assets in 2021, driven by loan or investment growth amid stronger economic recovery compared with other major markets since the pandemic.
The top 10 Asia-Pacific banks are the same as in the previous year, with only Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group Inc. and Japan Post Bank Co. Ltd. switching their places in sixth and seventh, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence data. Of the 50 largest banks in the region, 22 are from mainland China and nine are from Japan. All 50 lenders posted year-over-year growth in their total assets as of Dec. 31, 2020.
Driven by China's strong credit growth in 2020, Industrial & Commercial Bank of China Ltd., China Construction Bank Corp., Agricultural Bank of China Ltd. and Bank of China Ltd. retained their top four positions, with total assets at $17.321 trillion combined. Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc. occupied the fifth spot, followed by three other Japanese lenders.
Shanghai Pudong Development Bank Co. Ltd., also a Chinese lender, had the biggest jump in rank, to 12th from 17th, with total assets rising to $1.219 trillion.
As China pulled ahead of other major economies in recovering from the pandemic while pivoting toward technological self-reliance and net-zero emissions, total outstanding yuan loans at Chinese financial institutions reached a fresh record as of 2020-end, up 12.82% from a year earlier.
Japanese lenders, on the other hand, increased purchases of government bonds and other financial instruments as they were sitting on growing deposits, which helped offset the impact from sluggish loan growth despite an improved economic outlook.
The International Monetary Fund recently raised its 2021 growth forecast for China to 8.4% from 8.1% and improved its forecast for Japan to 3.3% from 3.1%. However, the IMF also reduced growth forecasts for some other Asian economies such as Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines, citing the still high COVID-19 caseloads.
Following China and Japan is South Korea, which had six banks on the list. KB Financial Group Inc. was the highest placed at 27th, while Industrial Bank of Korea was at 39th.
Australia's four largest banks all made the list, with Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Ltd. retaining its 20th slot. On the other hand, Commonwealth Bank of Australia, Westpac Banking Corp. and National Australia Bank Ltd. ranked 19th, 23rd and 25th, down from their respective slots in 2020.
New entrants to the top 50 list are Bank of Ningbo Co. Ltd., Mebuki Financial Group Inc. and China Bohai Bank Co. Ltd., which ranked 44th, 47th and 49th, respectively.
This article was published by S&P Global Market Intelligence and not by S&P Global Ratings, which is a separately managed division of S&P Global.
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