UPDATE 1-MUFG among first round bidders for GE's $1.5 bln Thai bank stake-sources

Thu Nov 29, 2012 12:59am EST

Nov 29 (Reuters) - Japan's biggest bank Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group is among the suitors to submit preliminary bids for General Electric's (GE) $1.5 billion stake in Thailand's fifth-largest lender, Bank of Ayudhya , sources said.

GE received "multiple" bids last week for its 25.3 percent stake in Bank of Ayudhya, one source with direct knowledge of the matter told Reuters, adding that the short-listed parties may put in second-round bids after Christmas.

Malaysia's No.2 lender CIMB Group Holdings was another bidder, one of the sources said. Singapore's Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp, which was earlier seen by sources as a potential bidder, did not submit a first-round bid for GE's stake in the Thai lender, sources said.

GE acquired a stake of about 33 percent in Bank of Ayudhya stake in 2007, for 22.3 billion baht, or $626 million based on the then exchange rate. In September, GE sold a 7.6 percent stake in the Thai bank, raising about $466 million.

A buyer of GE's remaining stake would likely be looking to take eventual control of Thailand's No. 1 retail bank, which has a $5.9 billion market value. A purchaser would gain a foothold in one of Asia's fastest growing economies.

Morgan Stanley, which is advising GE on the stake sale, declined to comment.

CIMB, MUFG and OCBC declined comment. A Singapore-based GE Capital spokesman also declined to comment. The sources declined to be identified because the auction process is not public.

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