The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, which is backed by China, was formally established on Friday, a statement issued by Beijing said. Considered a rival to the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank, AIIB is slated to start operations after its board of directors and executive council meet for the first time at an opening ceremony scheduled for January 16-18, The Telegraph reported.

As many as 17 funding members of AIIB ratified an agreement on the establishment of the bank. Funding from these members make up a little over 50% of its share capital, said Chinese Finance Minister Lou Jiwei (pictured above) according to state television reports.

The legal framework signed by the 50 founding countries in late June specifies that Beijing will be the largest shareholder in AIIB with 30%. While Australia, Germany, Italy, the Philippines, South Korea and Britain will participate in the functioning of the bank, the United States and Japan declined to join it.

First proposed by President Xi Jinping less than two years ago to finance regional development plans, the bank will, begin with funding power, transportation, and urban infrastructure projects in Asia, AIIB president-elect Jin Liqun said. It has authorised capital of some $100 billion and expects to offer its first batch of loans by mid 2016, Xinhua news agency reported.