Exclusive: Standard Bank agrees to sell $1 billion worth of Asia loans - sources

HONG KONG/JOHANNESBURG Wed Oct 30, 2013 9:30am EDT

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HONG KONG/JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - South Africa's Standard Bank Group (SBKJ.J) has agreed deals to sell its Asian loan portfolio worth around $1 billion to BNP Paribas SA BNPP.SA and others, according to two sources familiar with the matter.

Africa's biggest bank has been looking to sell the loans, which include financing of mining projects in Mongolia, Indonesia and other countries, according to the sources, who declined to be identified because the information is not yet public.

BNP Paribas has agreed to buy the Mongolian portion of the portfolio, which represents about $350 million worth of loans, as well as some other loans in Asia, one of the sources said.

The French bank agreed to pay around face value for the loans, the sources said.

A spokesman for Standard Bank declined to comment. No one was immediately available for comment at BNP Paribas.

The identity of the other potential buyers was not immediately known.

Standard Bank has been a lender in Asia to firms including Indonesia's PT Tower Bersama (TBIG.JK) and Hong Kong-listed Mongolian Mining Corp (0975.HK), according to Thomson Reuters data.

Johannesburg-based Standard Bank, which is about 20 percent owned by Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) (601398.SS) has been hiving off businesses outside of Africa to focus on building its presence in fast-growing sub-Saharan markets.

Sources told Reuters in July it was in talks to sell its markets business in London, including its commodities, foreign exchange and interest rate trading operations, for more than $500 million to ICBC.

Last year it finalized the sale of 80 percent of its Argentine business to ICBC. It has sold off stakes in operations in Turkey and Russia.

(Additional reporting by Lionel Laurent in Paris; Editing by Carmel Crimmins and Jane Merriman)

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