September 28, 2013 / 5:47 AM / 6 years ago

ANZ, Singapore's UOB eye Hong Kong's Wing Hang Bank: sources

HONG KONG (Reuters) - Singapore’s United Overseas Bank Ltd (UOBH.SI) and Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd (ANZ.AX) are considering a bid for Hong Kong’s Wing Hang Bank Ltd, according to people familiar with the matter.

A man passes a logo of United Overseas Bank in the central business district in Singapore, April 29, 2013. REUTERS/Edgar Su

Wing Hang 0302.HK, with a market capitalization of $4.7 billion, announced earlier this month that its controlling shareholders had received preliminary offers from independent third parties to purchase their shares in the bank. It did not name the bidders.

People familiar with the matter told Reuters on Saturday that ANZ and UOB were among the companies considering a bid for the Hong Kong bank. The Wall Street Journal also cited people familiar with the matter as saying UOB and ANZ had shown interest.

Wing Hang Bank is the second family-run Hong Kong lender to get a takeover offer since August. Chong Hing Bank Ltd (1111.HK) said that it had received offers from multiple parties, without naming the suitors.

A UOB spokesman on Saturday said the bank does not comment on market speculation. An ANZ spokesman said: “From time to time we look at opportunities as part of our super regional strategy however we don’t comment on market speculation.”

Wing Hang Bank could not be reached for comment.

China’s economic clout and the growth of the offshore yuan fixed income market has made Hong Kong’s mid-sized banks increasingly attractive to foreign lenders seeking a gateway to the mainland market and seeking growth outside home markets.

New capital rules and competition from bigger rivals like HSBC Plc (HSBA.L) and Standard Chartered Bank Plc (STAN.L) have also given controlling shareholders of Hong Kong banks more incentive not to hold out for more lofty premiums that other city lenders commanded before the global financial crisis.

Hong Kong’s Fung family, along with BNY International Financing Corp, control about 45 percent of the Wing Hang Bank, whose stock has soared since takeover talk started.

The Wall Street Journal reported earlier this month that ANZ dropped its over $900 million bid for the main Australian businesses of British lender Lloyds Banking Group (LLOY.L).

ANZ was among four parties shortlisted to buy Lloyds’s asset finance and commercial lending units but withdrew on concerns about its ability to integrate the units with its Esanda financing arm, the Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

ANZ, Australia’s third largest bank by value, has been seeking to expand its business across Asia for several years, a vision held by current CEO Mike Smith, a former top executive at HSBC.

Banks across Asia, from Japan to Singapore, are also aggressively expanding beyond their borders, looking for higher growth markets.

Reporting by Saeed Azhar; Editing by Michael Flaherty and Jeremy Laurence

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