Shipley's bank role 'treachery', says Peters

RICHARD MEADOWS
Last updated 05:00 16/07/2014

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Former prime minister Jenny Shipley's involvement with the latest Chinese banking giant to set up shop in New Zealand has been described by Winston Peters as "economic treachery".

But the chair of the country's newest bank says it will inject fresh competition into the market and support "exceptional growth" between China and New Zealand.

CCB New Zealand, a fully-owned subsidiary of the state-controlled China Construction Bank, received its licence from the Reserve Bank yesterday.

The parent company is one of the biggest banks in the world, with assets valued at US$2.52 trillion (NZ$2.86t) and a pre-tax annual profit of US$45.85 billion in 2013.

Shipley said CCB NZ's priority would be to support the exceptional growth in business between New Zealand and China, which is the country's largest trading partner.

Trade-related banking and associated activities would be an immediate focus, while retail banking would probably be two years away.

"We will be looking to be broad-based," Shipley said.

The bank was keen to get exposure to primary industries including forestry, fishing, agriculture, and potentially exploration, she said. "It would have to fit our appetite and criteria, but we are very much open to significant transactions."

Shipley would not rule out involvement in the Christchurch rebuild or the Auckland commercial property market, but said there were no specific deals in mind.

She said it was an opportune time for CCB to enter an economy "that's really well balanced, very open, and has growth prospects".

Shipley said she had supported greater competition throughout her political and business career, and pointed to New Zealand being dependent on Australian banks.

CCB's advantage over the incumbents was the strength of its existing relationships, she said.

China's largest bank, the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC), was also registered here last November, chaired by former politician and Reserve Bank governor Don Brash.

New Zealand First's Peters attacked the business and banking credentials of both former politicians, saying well-known names were being used to add a veneer of respectability.

"I'm concerned about what I call economic treachery in New Zealand political figures allowing us to be used in this way," he said. "It's appalling."

Peters said Shipley had "no grasp" of the Asian currency crisis when she was deputy prime minister, and "no understanding" of the Bank of New Zealand privatisation.

"For anyone who understands . . . they'll know just how spurious this appointment is," he said.

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Shipley has been out of politics for 12 years, the last six of which have been spent on the board of CCB NZ's parent company.

"I don't intend to engage with [Peters]," she said.

- Stuff

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