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News 22 Nov 16

Bank of China Set to Start Serbia Operation

Bank of China will receive a full licence to start operating at the beginning of 2017 in Serbia - the first Balkan country to host one of the world's largest banks.

Danilo Hinic
BIRN
Belgrade
Jorgovanka Tabakovic, governor of the Central Bank of Serbia. Photo: Media Centre Belgrade

After getting a preliminary license last week, Bank of China is set to start operating in the country in early 2017, the Central Bank of Serbia said on Monday.

Serbia will be first Balkan country to host what is the world’s fifth largest bank by total assets.

Jorgovanka Tabakovic, the governor of Central Bank of Serbia, said that by the end of this year, Bank of China will be fully registered and licensed for operation from January, after making its initial application to open an office in June.

“I am proud that one of the world’s five largest banks is coming to Serbia and that the briefness of the period in which the preliminary licence was given says a lot about this bank and its cooperation with the Central Bank of Serbia,” Tabakovic told a press conference on Monday.

The bank’s office in Serbia will not only serve businesses in Serbia but will also be its main hub for conducting business with other Balkan countries and Greece.

China has been expanding its influence in Serbia with long-term projects in Serbia related to investments in industry and infrastructure.

Most of the deals were concluded this year, including Chinese investment in the modernisation of the steelworks in Smederevo, agreed between the Serbian government and He Steel company in June 2016, and the Chinese-financed construction of a fast rail link between Belgrade and Budapest that was confirmed by the Serbian, Hungarian and Chinese authorities at the beginning of November.

While at the outset, Bank of China will only serve Chinese and Serbian companies, economist Ljubisa Savic said he believes that “in a few years or sooner, it will probably start to work with the general public as well”.

Savic told news agency Tanjug that Bank of China will strengthen Beijing’s presence in Serbia and will play an important role in funding investment projects in the country, which he claimed would amount to $1.7 billion.

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