SINGAPORE/HONG KONG, July 16 Finance firm Pepper
Australia has roped in Bank of East Asia Ltd to bid
for Standard Chartered Plc's Hong Kong consumer finance
unit, putting them in a stronger position to win the auction,
people with direct knowledge of the matter said.
The backing of a commercial bank provides Pepper with
relatively cheap access to funding, giving it an advantage over
the other main challenger, Chow Tai Fook Enterprises, for
control of a business which sources have said could fetch
between $500 million and $700 million.
As part of the deal, Pepper plans to transfer the mortgage
book of Standard Chartered's PrimeCredit unit to Bank of East
Asia, the sources said, requesting anonymity because the talks
are not public. Hong Kong-based Bank of East Asia would be able
to provide cheaper funding to the Australian firm to run the
Hong Kong business, they said.
Spokeswomen for Bank of East Asia, Pepper and Standard
Chartered spokesman all declined to comment.
(Additional reporting by Byron Kaye in SYDNEY; Editing by
Stephen Coates and Ryan Woo)