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Standard Chartered Said in Talks to Buy HSBC Bangladesh Branches

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Feb. 8 (Bloomberg) -- Standard Chartered Plc is in talks to buy HSBC Holdings Plc’s consumer banking operations in Bangladesh, said three people with knowledge of the discussions.

The negotiations are still at an early stage, said one of the people, who declined to be identified because the transaction is private. The talks are being held in London, another person said.

Standard Chartered, which earns most of its profit in emerging markets, is the largest overseas bank in Bangladesh with 26 branches and 57 automated teller machines, according to the bank’s website. London-based HSBC opened its first branch in the country in 1996 and has 13 offices.

HSBC is reversing two decades of expansion by selling assets as part of Chief Executive Officer Stuart Gulliver’s efforts to cut expenses and prepare for tighter capital rules. The London-based bank is seeking buyers for its Japanese retail unit, people familiar with the matter said last month. It has already sold banking operations in Thailand, Costa Rica, El Salvador and Honduras.

“We’re in the process of reviewing our portfolio internationally,” HSBC spokesman Paul Harris said in an e-mail. “Our priority is to allocate our capital more efficiently. That means we’ll continue to invest in markets with strategic relevance and either turn around, dispose or close those that don’t.” Both Harris and Jon Tracey, a spokesman for Standard Chartered in London, declined to comment on the negotiations.

Standard Chartered bolstered its position in Bangladesh with the purchase of the South Asian and Middle Eastern operations of Melbourne-based ANZ Grindlays Bank Ltd. in 2000, which made it the biggest foreign lender in India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.

To contact the reporters on this story: George Smith Alexander in Mumbai at galexander11@bloomberg.net; Gavin Finch in London at gfinch@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Philip Lagerkranser at lagerkranser@bloomberg.net

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