HSBC in talks to sell $9 billion Ping stake
HSBC Holdings Plc is in talks to sell its $9 billion stake in Ping Insurance, China’s secondlargest insurer, as the UK bank sheds assets to revive profit growth. Europe’s largest lender by market value “is in discussions which may or may not lead to the sale of the shares,” HSBC said in a statement on Monday. Ping shares fell as much as 3.5 percent in Hong Kong trading, the biggest drop since July 23. HSBC Chief Executive Officer Stuart Gulliver’s attempts to cut costs have been hampered by probes into money laundering and compensation claims, increasing pressure for asset sales. The London-based lender agreed to sell some general insurance units in Asia and Latin America earlier this year. “HSBC can reinvest the proceeds from the share sale in its organic business in China,” said Wilson Li, a Shenzhen-based analyst at Guotai Junan Securities Co. “That would actually generate more benefits than the existing investment in Ping An.”
The bank plans to sell all of its 1.23 billion Hong Kong- traded shares in Ping An, which represents about 40 percent of the insurance company’s Hong Kong-traded shares and 15.6 percent of all Ping An stock, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reported, citing people it didn’t identify. Charoen Pokphand Group, controlled by Thai billionaire Dhanin Chearavanont, is interested in buying the stake, according to the HKEJ report. Dhanin’s net worth is estimated at $6.1 billion as of Nov. 16, according to the Billionaires Index. HSBC gained 1.4 percent to 604.3 pence by 8:17 a.m. in London trading.