StanChart to buy GE's HK consumer finance unit

HONG KONG Fri Feb 26, 2010 7:45am EST

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HONG KONG Feb 26 (Reuters) - Standard Chartered Bank PLC (STAN.L) said it had agreed to buy General Electric Corp's (GE.N) Hong Kong consumer finance business, a transaction that will add a roughly $1 billion mortgage portfolio to the bank's Hong Kong consumer banking business.

The companies aim to complete the deal in the first half of 2010, said Standard Chartered (2888.HK) spokeswoman Gabriel Kwan on Friday.

At the heart of the acquisition is a portfolio of Hong Kong mortgages.

"It's a conservative portfolio, and we are very comfortable with it," said Kwan, adding that the deal is subject to regulatory approval.

On Thursday sources said GE, the U.S.'s largest conglomerate, would sell its $3.3 billion stake in Turkey's Garanti Bank GARN.IS. [ID:nLDE61O0FV]

GE has been trying to stabilise itself after posting eight straight quarters of falling profit and has been scaling back its hefty GE Capital finance arm.

A GE spokesman wasn't immediately available for comment.

If completed, the transaction would be the latest in a series of divestments of Asian financial assets by Western companies seeking to bolster their balance sheets in the wake of the financial crisis.

Those include American International Group's (AIG.N) agreement in November to sell a majority stake in Nan Shan Life Insurance to a consortium for $2.15 billion and ING's (ING.AS) sale of its Taiwan unit in October 2008. (Reporting by Don Durfee; Editing by Jon Loades-Carter)

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