Industrial & Commercial Bank of China (ICBC), the mainland's largest lender, said yesterday that it has agreed to buy a 20 percent stake in South Africa's Standard Bank Group for HK$42.31 billion ($5.73 billion).
The deal is among the biggest overseas acquisitions made by a Chinese company.
ICBC will acquire shares from existing shareholders as well as subscribe to new shares to obtain a 20 percent holding in the enlarged share capital of South Africa's largest banking group.
Standard Bank Group has agreed to pay ICBC an amount equal to 1 percent of the total transaction cost if it decides to back out of the deal.
The acquisition is expected to be completed by Feb 26, 2008.
The transaction is subject to approval from various state agencies in South Africa and China as well as from the UK Financial Services Authority.
ICBC did not say how it intends to finance the deal but the bank is sitting on a cash pile of 930 billion yuan.
This is the Chinese bank's third overseas acquisition. In December 2006, it bought a 90 percent stake in PT Bank Halim Indonesia and in August this year, ICBC agreed to pay $583 million for 80 percent of Macao's Seng Heng Bank.
The Standard Bank Group is the largest banking group in South Africa with total assets of HK$1,255.1 billion as of end-June and market capitalization of HK$166.9 billion as of 22 October.
The South African government investment vehicle Public Investment Corp is the largest shareholder in the bank with a 13.9 percent holding.
It has more than 950 branches, operations in 38 countries and employs over 46,000 people.
As of end-2006, ICBC had 98 overseas branches including operations in Tokyo, Seoul, Singapore, Frankfurt and Luxemburg.
Shares in ICBC fell 2 cents or 0.3 percent to HK$7.01 as investors took profit on its sharp gains earlier this week.
The mainland bank said profits in the first nine months grew 66 percent from a year earlier, buoyed by robust lending growth and increased fee income.
ICBC's net profit for the period stood at 63.5 billion yuan, up from the previous year's 38.19 billion under international accounting standards.