Exclusive: Japan Post considers nearly $9 bln sale of stake in banking business -sources

TOKYO, Feb 21 (Reuters) - Japan Post Holdings Co (6178.T) is considering cutting its stake in its Japan Post Bank Co (7182.T) business by around a third by the end of next month, in a share sale potentially worth nearly $9 billion, people familiar with the matter said.

The postal giant is considering selling the shares by the end of the current financial year that ends in March and is expected to take a decision shortly, based on market conditions, according to three people, all of whom declined to be identified.

The sale will see Japan Post Holdings, which owns around 89% of Japan Post Bank, reduce the stake to around 60%, helping the banking business to meet Tokyo Stock Exchange requirements on share liquidity, two of the people said.

The deal would be worth around 1.2 trillion yen ($8.9 billion) at current market prices, two of the people said.

Spokespeople for both Japan Post Holdings and Japan Post Bank said no such decision had been made.

The sale price and percentage of shares to be sold to overseas investors have yet to be decided. Japan Post Bank is also considering buying back some of the shares, according to two of the people.

This would mark the first such sale of shares in Japan Post Bank since the national postal giant and its two financial businesses, Japan Post Bank and Japan Post Insurance Co (7181.T), were listed in 2015, in the country's biggest privatisation in about three decades.

As part of its privatisation, Japan Post Holdings is set to reduce its stake in both the bank and insurance divisions to 50% or less by the end of March 2026. It reached that target for the insurance unit in 2021.

Under rules introduced last year, companies listed on the top section of the Tokyo Stock Exchange need to keep a tradable share ratio of 35% or more.

($1 = 134.8000 yen)

Reporting by Miho Uranaka and Takaya Yamaguchi; Editing by David Dolan, Nobuhiro Kubo and Jane Merriman

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.