Bank of China is the most recognizable of the country's Big Four banks, with branches from Paris to New York.
Founded a century ago, it has served as China's central bank, foreign exchange bank, and most recently, a top commercial lender with divisions in investment banking and retail banking. Like the rest of the Big Four, Bank of China is dramatically scaling back loans after China's $585 billion economic stimulus boosted profits this year. The government cut lending amid worries of bubbles and bad loans. 9. Agricultural bank of china, 2008 sales: $48 billionAs the name implies, Agricultural Bank of China has focused on lending in the country's rural districts. It's the fourth largest of China's state-owned Big Four banks -- boasting some 350 million customers and 24,000 branches.
Investors are buzzing over an IPO, but AgBank remains the only big state-owned bank yet to list shares publicly.
AgBank was in terrible shape in just two years ago before a $30 billion government bailout. Loan losses remain double the rate of the other Big Four and expenses for its massive branch network in rural areas have crimped earnings. 10. Sinochem, 2008 sales: $44 billionState-owned Sinochem is one of China's largest umbrella companies, with businesses in oil, agriculture pesticides, financial services and high-end real estate. Three of those subsidiaries are publicly listed and recently have been aggressively acquiring market share.
This November its energy arm -- China's No. 4 oil company -- will bid for Iraqi oil fields; in September, its fertilizer, pesticide and seed business targeted an Australian firm with a $2.4 billion offer.
NEXT: Agricultural Bank of China