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China Construction Bank eyes European acquisition

China Construction Bank, the second-ranked Chinese bank by assets, is seriously mulling to acquire an undisclosed European financial firm, in a bid to boost its international presence.

Speaking in an interview, China Construction Bank chairman Wang Hongzhang told the Financial Times that the bank had RMB100bn ($15.8bn) of capital to purchase an entire bank or, to acquire a stake of 30-50% in a larger conglomerate.

"Some of the banks in Europe have been put up for sale," Wang told the news paper. "Now we are looking for the right choice."

"For example, if we could take Rmb100bn and acquire a financial institution that operates in all major countries and that accords with our international development strategy, then we’d take Rmb100bn to acquire it," Wang added.

Without disclosing further information regarding the potential targets, Wang said that most likely the deal may belong to countries, including the UK, Germany or France.

Underlining his strategy, he said that the bank will consider only those deals, which have a substantial international presence, to avoid "cultural challenges".

According to an estimate, ICBC’s $5.5bn purchase of a 20% stake in South Africa’s Standard Bank has been the largest deal to date.