No Time to Die: China Banks Edition

Plus: Lightning Network vs Visa, Siam Commercial Bank, Bank Disintermediation

Fifteen years ago – almost to the day – I sat in a meeting room at my London-based hedge fund, across the table from the management team behind the world’s biggest IPO. They’d come halfway across the world on a global roadshow to educate investors about their company. There was nothing fancy about this company, no cutting edge tech or innovative business model. It was a bank – the largest in China. After years of Communist party ownership, it was opening itself up to private capital.

The meeting itself was a formality. We wanted stock and they knew we wanted stock. An interpreter sat alongside the most senior executive and questions and answers were routed via her. They told us about their operational reforms, about their financial restructuring and about their strategy to grow fee income. But the investment case was simple: this was the biggest bank in China, home to almost a fifth of the deposits in the country, and an investment in it would grant exposure to the rapid growth of the …

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