Agricultural Bank of China’s County-level Lending Hits Record High in First Quarter, NPL Ratio Edges Lower

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Big state-owned lender Agricultural Bank of China (ABC) saw its lending to Chinese counties rise to a record high during the first quarter of 2022, as Beijing pushes for the financial sector to better support the real and rural economies.

As of the end of the first quarter ABC’s county-level loan balance hit a record high of 6.66 trillion yuan, following growth of 438.2 billion yuan, or 7.1%.

This growth rate was 1.4 percentage points ahead of the average rate of growth for all lending by ABC in the first quarter, according to figures released by ABC at its general shareholders meeting held on 29 June in Beijing.

As of the end of the first quarter ABC’s non-performing loan (NPL) balance was 254.449 billion yuan, while its NPL ratio was 1.41%, for a decline of 0.02 percentage points compared to the end of last year. ABC also said that special-mentioned loans and loans in arrears both saw declines in the first quarter.

“In terms of the distribution of non-performing loans, they are mainly in the manufacturing sector, real estate, and leasing and commercial services operations,” said ABC president Zhang Qingsong (张青松).

“The non-performing loans of these three sectors account for around 60% of all legal person non-performing loans.”

In the first quarter ABC saw operating revenues of 205.949 billion yuan, for year-on-year (YoY) growth of 5.91%. Net profits attributable to shareholders totalled 70.75 billion yuan, for YoY growth of 7.42%, ranking first amongst China’s original big four state-owned banks.

ABC’s dividend allocation plan for 2021 provides 2.068 yuan for every ten shares (including tax), for a total cash dividend of 72.376 billion yuan, or 30.01% of net profits attributable to shareholders.