* Sources say deal could be worth $500 mln
* Shares up 1.3 pct
(Recasts, adds analyst comments)
By Helen Nyambura-Mwaura
JOHANNESBURG, Nov 8 South African lender
Standard Bank confirmed on Friday it was in talks to
sell a controlling stake in its London-based global markets
business, a deal sources have told Reuters would be worth over
Africa's biggest bank declined to name the potential buyer,
but two people familiar with the matter told Reuters in July it
was in talks to sell the operation to its top shareholder, the
Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC).
Standard Bank, which is 20 percent owned by ICBC, has been
hiving off businesses outside Africa to concentrate on bulking
up on the continent. Last year it finalised the sale of an 80
percent stake in its Argentine unit to ICBC.
"I would not be surprised if the buyer's going to be ICBC,"
said Johann Scholtz, head of research at Afrifocus Securities in
"It's positive for Standard Bank in the sense that the
London business has not been profitable for a while and consumes
quite a fair bit of capital."
A spokesman for Standard Bank said in July that it and ICBC
were "jointly exploring areas of greater cooperation, including
global markets and commodities".
The Johannesburg-based bank said in statement on Friday it
was looking to sell a majority stake in the global markets
business outside of Africa.
"The principal legal entity that would form part of a
transaction is Standard Bank Plc, the group's London operation,"
"The envisaged transaction does not involve Standard Bank's
existing investment banking, transactional banking and corporate
banking operations outside Africa."
It said it would keep a minority stake in the business to
maintain "continuity of access" for its African clients.
The business includes Standard Bank's commodity, rates and
foreign exchange trading operations, one of the sources told
Reuters in July.
Standard Bank is likely to get only less than half of the
13.8 billion rand ($1.3 billion) of the London business'
capital, said another analyst who declined to be named because
he is not authorised to speak with media.
"It's not that big in the overall scheme of things, it's a
few billion rand," he said. "But at least it releases the
capital trapped there in London. They will now be able to get
some of that out and redeploy it in Africa and South Africa."
Standard Bank has agreed to sell its Asian loan book worth
$1 billion to BNP Paribas SA and others, sources have
also told Reuters.
Its shares, valued at $20.2 billion, were up nearly 1
percent at 125.50 rand at 1209 GMT, bringing gains this year
even higher to nearly 6 percent, in line with Johannesburg's
($1 = 10.2993 South African rand)
(Editing by David Dolan and Patrick Lannin)