For decades, the world's largest bank resided in New York City or London. Not anymore. State-owned Industrial & Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) is worth $236 billion in market value -- $40 billion more than its closest rival, Britain's HSBC. Since going public in 2006, the Beijing bank has grown to nearly 200 million customers.
Like many of China's mega-companies, government help has spurred the bank's growth. ICBC got a government bailout in 2005 after it wrote down a series of bad loans to Chinese businesses. A year later, ICBC received tax breaks before its record IPO. A cleaner balance sheet and China's hot GDP growth could keep the bank in the black. In the first half of 2009, it earned $9.4 billion.
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