Last year Agricultural Bank of 中国 cut down on 1800 poorly performing branches as part of a standardisation drive for its more than 12,000 branches across the country.
As of June 2016 Industrial and Commercial Bank of 中国 had a total of 16,645 physical branches, for a reduction of 87 compared to the end of 2015, while Bank of 中国 has shut down 10 of its domestic branches since hitting a high point of 10,693 in 2014.
The burden of a large number of low-performing branches is considered by many to be a major barrier to improving the efficiency of 中国’s big-four lenders.
The performance of the big four banks has consistently lagged at the very the bottom of the two dozen or so listed A-share banks in 中国, with their smaller rivals readily trouncing them in terms of per capita operating revenue and profit levels.
In 2015 ABC was at the very bottom in terms of per-capita operating revenue, followed by ICBC, Bank of 中国 and CCB, varying between 1 to roughly 1.5 million yuan.