China's home appliance retailer Suning eyes banking business
HONG KONG Aug 23 (Reuters) - Chinese home appliance retailer Suning Commerce Group Co Ltd said on Friday it aims to set up a private bank, more than a week after Beijing unveiled plans to establish more financial institutions to support cash-starved smaller firms.
Suning, which has a market value of $9.1 billion, has submitted an initial document to authorities to establish a private bank in the mainland, the company said in a notice published on its website.
It is also preparing to launch an online platform that would offer financial products and solutions to customers.
The news comes as Beijing has been trying to open up the banking sector to private investors as state banks have channelled the bulk of their loans to state firms and local government vehicles.
Shares of Shenzhen-listed Suning, which is seen by some as China's answer to Best Buy, rose more than 6 percent to their highest since July last year.
China's home appliance market is highly competitive and a booming online shopping business has also forced operators to rethink their business model and expand into areas like e-commerce to chase the country's growing number of internet shoppers.
In July, Suning reported a 58.2 percent drop in first-half net profit to 732.5 million yuan ($119.67 million), while revenues rose 17.5 percent to 55.45 billion yuan.
Last month, smaller rival GOME Electrical Appliances Holdings Ltd, backed by private equity firm Bain Capital, said its profitability had significantly improved and it expected to swing to a profit in the first half of the year from losses a year ago.
GOME, with a market value of $1.7 billion, is due to announce its first half earnings on Tuesday.
($1 = 6.1211 Chinese yuan) (Reporting by Donny Kwok; Editing by Anne Marie Roantree and Stephen Coates)
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