German insurance giant Allianz is negotiating to buy a stake in Chinese bank ICBC (Industrial and Commercial Bank of China), a source close to the talks told news agency AFP on Monday, stressing that discussions were still at a very early stage. A number of newspapers reported on Monday that Allianz was competing with US bank Goldman Sachs to buy a one-billion-dollar (830-million-euro) stake in ICBC. A spokesman for Allianz declined to comment. ICBC has total net assets worth around $500 billion and more than 100 million customers. The Chinese banking sector is gradually opening itself up to foreign investors. Bank of America just spent three billion dollars on a nine-percent stake in the China Construction Bank (CCB) and has the right to increase that stake to 19.9 percent in the next five and a half years.