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Citic and Baidu Seek Up to $1 Billion for Online Bank

Crystal Tse and Lulu Yilun Chen
Citic and Baidu Seek Up to $1 Billion for Online Bank

(Bloomberg) -- A fintech joint venture between China CITIC Bank Corp. and Baidu Inc. is seeking as much as 7 billion yuan ($1 billion) in a private funding round, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

aiBank, the digital bank operation, is aiming to complete the financing in the coming months, one of the people said. Deliberations are on-going and details of the deal may change, according to the people, who asked not to be identified because the information is private.

Traditional lenders have been cutting staff and downsizing their branch network amid competition from online payment giants such as Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. affiliate Ant Financial and Tencent Holdings Ltd. More banking transactions in China are now completed outside brick-and-mortar branches.

A representative for Baidu declined to comment. aiBank said in an emailed response that it “has nothing further to disclose.”

The online lender, set up in 2015, provides personal loans of as much as 300,000 yuan without requiring collateral, according to its website. It also operates deposit services, sells financial products and offers electronic wallet systems to businesses.

CITIC Bank controls 70% of the joint venture while Baidu owns the remaining stake, according to a 2018 statement.

--With assistance from Jun Luo.

To contact the reporters on this story: Crystal Tse in Hong Kong at ctse44@bloomberg.net;Lulu Yilun Chen in Hong Kong at ychen447@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Fion Li at fli59@bloomberg.net, Peter Elstrom

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