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ICBC to sell stake to Goldman Sachs, Allianz
Updated: 2005-08-29 20:38

China's biggest lender, the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC), may sign a memorandum of understanding to sell a multi-billion dollar stake to a consortium comprising of Goldman Sachs and Allianz, a press report says.

Citing unnamed sources, the South China Morning Post said the proposed deal is expected to be valued at two billion US dollars or more, although the size of the stake was unclear.

However, it noted ICBC chairman Jiang Jianqing has said that the bank hopes to sign a non-binding MOU on the sale of a combined 10 percent stake to potential foreign investors by the end of this month.

The paper said that US investment bank Goldman Sachs would hold the ICBC stake through Goldman Sachs Capital Partners V, a private equity fund. German insurance giant Allianz may seek a strategic co-operation in product areas with the Chinese lender.

Goldman and Allianz declined to comment on the proposed deal, which comes as ICBC tries to restructure its finances ahead of a planned public listing.

ICBC is also understood to have held talks with Credit Suisse, American Express and Fortis, it said.

ICBC could expect to fetch 3.7 billion dollars from the sale of a 10 percent stake, based on a valuation of 1.15 to 1.2 times book value achieved in similar deals recently.

But the non-binding nature of a MOU means that a final deal, if struck, could differ substantially from the one now being considered.

An investment in ICBC would bolster Goldman Sachs' chances at winning a mandate to underwrite the Chinese lender's subsequent multi-billion dollar international share offering, according to the report.

But it could potentially damage its chance to do the same for Bank of China, which is also planning a listing.

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