Big Is Beautiful

Author: Andrew Cunningham

Assets of ICBC exceed $3 trillion, while European banks shrink.

The biggest bank in the world had more than $3 trillion dollars in assets at the end of 2013, the first time the three-trillion mark has been passed. Unsurprisingly, that bank was Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, the same one that topped the list last year. At the end of 2013, the bank showed assets of $3,100 billion, compared with $2,789 billion the previous year.

HSBC remains the second-largest bank in the world, based on end-2013 asset size, but China Construction Bank moved into third place, pushing Mitsubishi UFJ Financial into fourth.

Four of the ten biggest banks in the world are now Chinese, compared with two last year.

European banks still dominate the ranks of the world’s biggest banks, accounting for 23 of the 50 banks in Global Finance’s Biggest 50 Global Banks listing. Chinese banks are the next-biggest group, with 10 banks, an increase of three, compared with last year’s rankings. There are also six US banks, four each from Japan and Australia and three from Canada.

The combined total assets of the 50 biggest banks in the world fell slightly during 2013, to $68,488 billion from $68, 557 billion. This was owing to falling asset sizes among the bigger European banks. For example, Deutsche Bank showed assets of $2,222 billion at the end of 2013, compared with $2,655 billion a year earlier, and Crédit Agricole was down to $2,353 billion from $2,650 billion.

Chinese banks accounted for 22% of the combined assets of the biggest 50 banks in this year’s ranking, compared with 17% last year. US banks contributed 14% and British banks 13%.

Two banks that were included in last year’s list are not big enough to qualify this year: Banco do Brasil and DZ Bank. They are replaced by two Chinese banks: Industrial Bank (China) and China Citic Bank.