StanBank to sell London unit to ICBC for over $500 million: sources

JOHANNESBURG/HONG KONG Wed Jul 31, 2013 8:09am EDT

Businessmen chat in front of a Standard Bank logo in Sandton outside Johannesburg in this October 25, 2007 file photo. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

Businessmen chat in front of a Standard Bank logo in Sandton outside Johannesburg in this October 25, 2007 file photo.

Credit: Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko

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JOHANNESBURG/HONG KONG (Reuters) - South Africa's Standard Bank (SBKJ.J) is in talks to sell its markets business in London to its biggest shareholder Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (601398.SS) for more than $500 million, two people familiar with the matter said on Wednesday.

The transaction would include Standard Bank's commodities, foreign exchange and interest rate trading operations, said one of the sources.

Due diligence had been completed and talks were progressing, with the deal likely to be finalized in the coming months, the person said. Both sources declined to be identified because the information is not yet public.

The deal would mark the latest move by Africa's top bank to hive off businesses outside the continent as it focuses on building its presence in fast-growing sub-Saharan markets.

No one was immediately available for comment at ICBC. A spokesman for Standard Bank said in a statement the two lenders were "jointly exploring areas of greater co-operation, including global markets and commodities".

The transaction would also be further evidence of ICBC's global ambitions. The Chinese bank, one of the world's largest by assets, already owns about 20 percent of Standard Bank.

Last year, Standard Bank finalized the sale of 80 percent of its Argentine business to ICBC.

The Johannesburg-based lender said in November it planned to cut up to 15 percent of its London staff to save $100 million.

(Writing by David Dolan; Editing by Pascal Fletcher)

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