Hong Kong regulator censures Bank of America units for takeover code breaches

The Bank of America building is shown in Los Angeles, California October 29, 2014. REUTERS/Mike Blake/File Photo

HONG KONG (Reuters) - Hong Kong’s Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) has publicly censured two units of Bank of America for breaches of the city’s takeover codes in two deals last year, the regulator said on Wednesday.

The SFC said the censures were linked to the role of the units in a partial offer for China Resources Beer (CRB) and the privatization of Power Assets Holdings Ltd.

The regulator said the Bank of America units failed to disclose their dealings in equity swaps in both the CRB partial offer and the Power Assets privatization, despite taking the role of adviser on both transactions.

A Bank of America spokesman declined to comment.

The city’s takeover codes require parties to an offer and their associates to disclose dealings in relevant securities, whether for themselves or clients, during an equity swap period, the SFC said in a statement.

“BofAML Group should have taken reasonable care to establish and maintain procedures and systems to guard against non-compliance with the Takeovers Code,” it added.

Bank of America accepted the “oversight of the disclosure obligations” in both transactions, the regulator said, and had investigated the issue and taken remedial measures.

In February, the SFC censured Goldman Sachs for infringing parts of the takeover code while acting as financial adviser to Wing Hang Bank Ltd in a $5-billion offer for the Hong Kong lender in 2014.

Reporting by Denny Thomas and Sumeet Chatterjee; Editing by Clarence Fernandez