March 29, 2017 / 9:20 AM / 5 months ago

China's AgBank in talks for more debt-to-equity deals

BEIJING, March 29 (Reuters) - Agricultural Bank of China Ltd (AgBank), the country's third-biggest listed lender by assets, is in discussions to undertake more than 20 debt-to-equity deals, after signing agreements with eight companies.

The eight deals were valued at about 70 billion yuan ($10.16 billion), AgBank President Zhao Huan said at a press conference on Wednesday.

The bank earlier said it had prepared for the establishment of a specialized institution for debt-to-equity swaps.

AgBank on Tuesday reported an 8.7 percent on-year profit growth for the fourth quarter ended December, boosted by higher fee and commission income.

But net interest margin dropped to 2.25 percent at end-December, compared with 2.31 percent at end-June, the eighth straight quarter in which margins have been squeezed.

The bank's non-performing loan ratio (NPL), a key indicator for credit quality, eased to 2.37 percent at end-December, from 2.39 percent at end-September.

Kang Yi, the bank's vice president, said the lender was seeing a "turning point" on its loans business, with the pricing of loans rebounding. ($1 = 6.8890 Chinese yuan renminbi) (Reporting By Shu Zhang and Matthew Miller; Editing by Himani Sarkar)

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