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English>>China Business

Ping An falls on HSBC stake sale talks

By Feng Jianmin (Shanghai Daily)

08:17, November 20, 2012

HSBC Holdings Plc, Europe's largest lender, is discussing the sale of its stake in Ping An Insurance (Group) Co, a move that sparked a tumble in Ping An shares in Shanghai and Hong Kong.

The UK bank "has from time to time received approaches regarding its shareholding," and "is in discussions which may or may not lead to the sale of the shares," HSBC said in a statement yesterday. The bank said it will make a further announcement when appropriate.

The bank holds 1.23 billion Hong Kong-traded shares in Ping An, China's second-largest insurer. The stake represents 40 percent of the insurer's Hong Kong-traded shares and 15.6 percent of all Ping An stock. It was worth US$9.6 billion at the market close yesterday. HSBC paid US$600 million for a 10 percent stake in Shenzhen-based Ping An in 2002.

Ping An's Hong Kong-traded shares yesterday fell 1.7 percent to HK$58.6 (US$7.80), and its yuan-denominated shares in Shanghai lost 1.6 percent to 39.49 yuan (US$6.30), both underperforming the market.

"The shares are very likely to be sold at a discount due to weakness of the domestic yuan-denominated stock market and the insurer's slow growth," said Michael Wong, director of Convoy Securities & Asset Management.

The Charoen Pokphand Group, controlled by Thai billionaire Dhanin Chearavanont, is keen in buying the stake, the Hong Kong Economic Journal said yesterday.

Sheng Ruisheng, a Ping An spokesman, said the insurer had no details about the deal.

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