Prodded by Beijing to invest in developing countries, China's massive state-owned bank has inked a deal to buy 20% of South Africa's Standard Bank for $5.6 billion, marking the largest Chinese investment ever in Africa. ICBC, flush with cash, is eager to provide financial services to Chinese companies increasingly active in the Horn of Africa, Reuters reports.
Standard Bank, based in Johannesburg, operates in 18 African countries and offers the most direct conduit yet for Chinese capital in Africa. The South African government has welcomed the deal, anxious to encourage further Chinese investment. ICBC last year raised $21.9 billion in the world's largest IPO, and in July overtook Citigroup as the world's largest bank by market value.