Bain, Carlyle among bidders for StanChart's HK consumer unit-sources

April 17 Thu Apr 17, 2014 1:22am EDT

April 17 (Reuters) - Private equity firms Bain Capital and Carlyle Group are among first round bidders for Standard Chartered's Hong Kong consumer finance unit, a business valued at up to $700 million, people familiar with the matter said.

Orix Corp, one of Japan's largest financial services conglomerates, and some Chinese non-bank finance companies also placed bids this week, they added.

A short-list of bidders is expected in the next few weeks, the people said, declining to be identified as the bidding process is confidential.

The sale of PrimeCredit is expected to be the first of several sales of non-core businesses by Standard Chartered as it seeks to boost shareholder returns and braces for slower profit growth after a decade of earnings expansion that ended in 2013.

Sources have previously said the deal could fetch between $500 million and $700 million, earning a tidy profit for the Asia-focused lender as it bought PrimeCredit a decade ago for $126 million. PrimeCredit specialises in high-interest loans for consumers with little credit history.

Representatives for Carlyle and Orix, declined to comment. Bain did not offer immediate comment.

A Standard Chartered spokesman said the bank is exploring strategic options for the consumer finance business but no formal decision has been made.

Having ridden the wave of cheap credit that poured into emerging markets for the past decade, Standard Chartered is now slimming down as foreign money pulls out. It also cut 2,000 jobs last year. (Reporting by Saeed Azhar in Singapore and Stephen Aldred in Hong Kong. Additional reporting by Emi Emoto in Tokyo.; Editing by Denny Thomas and Edwina Gibbs)

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