Bank of East Asia extends business review deadline due to virus

HONG KONG, May 27 (Reuters) - Hong Kong-based Bank of East Asia Ltd (BEA) has extended by three months the deadline for it to update shareholders on a review of its business portfolios and assets due to the coronavirus pandemic, it said on Wednesday.

The bank said in March it had agreed to carry out a review of its businesses, pausing four-year-old legal proceedings demanding change at the lender brought by activist investor Elliott Management.

Due to “impediments caused by the COVID-19 virus”, BEA has now decided to provide an update on the progress by Sept. 30 and not by June 30 as previously announced, it said in a statement to the stock exchange.

Elliott has a near 8% stake in BEA and previously urged the bank - whose main markets are Hong Kong and mainland China - to explore putting itself up for sale in an open letter to shareholders, in which it also said the lender was poorly run.

Profit at BEA, which has hired Goldman Sachs to assist with the business review, halved in 2019 due to a significant rise in impairment losses in its mainland China business. (Reporting by Sumeet Chatterjee; Editing by Jan Harvey)