| HONG KONG
HONG KONG Goldman Sachs Group (GS.N) and U.S. private equity firm Warburg Pincus are among the companies that have advanced to the next round of the sale process to buy a stake in China Huarong Asset Management Co Ltd, people familiar with the matter told Reuters.
China Huarong Asset, the nation's biggest bad debt manager, has short-listed eight suitors, including Malaysian sovereign wealth fund Khazanah Nasional KHAZA.UL, private equity firm Apax Partners and a unit of Deutsche Bank (DBKGn.DE), the people said, declining to be identified because the information is not public.
Huarong is planning to sell a stake of 15 to 20 percent to strategic investors ahead of an eventual initial public offering, as it seeks to raise over $2 billion to buy bad loans and forfeited assets from companies unable to repay lenders, Reuters previously reported.
One of four asset management companies the government established in 1999 to absorb toxic assets held by China's four biggest banks, Huarong would be the second of those companies to list following the successful debut of China Cinda Asset Management Co Ltd (1359.HK) in December.
Cinda's stock price surged more than a third on its debut as investors bet that soured loans in the country will continue to grow.
Cinda got an image boost from its pre-IPO investors - China's social security fund NSSF, CITIC Capital, UBS AG UBSN.VX and Standard Chartered Bank (STAN.L) - and Huarong is looking for a strong lineup of names to help its own offering, the sources said.
Overseeing total assets of 400.9 billion yuan ($66 billion), Huarong is the largest of China's four bad loan managers.
Huarong, Apax and Khazanah did not immediately respond to requests for comment, while Deutsche, Goldman and Warburg WP.UL declined to comment.
Final bids are due in around mid-April, with winning bidders expected to be picked around June, one of the people said.
Some 20 investors expressed interest in the initial round.
(Additional reporting by Bi Xiaowen in HONG KONG and Niluksi Koswanage in KUALA LUMPUR; Editing by Denny Thomas, Ryan Woo and Christopher Cushig)