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Mauritius Central Bank Closely Watching HSBC Unit Sale Reports

March 21 (Bloomberg) -- Mauritius’s central bank is “closely” tracking reports about HSBC Holdings Plc’s sale of its retail unit in the country, said Governor Rundheersing Bheenick.

“The central bank is monitoring the situation very closely ever since HSBC announced its intention to dispose of its domestic retail operation,” he said in an e-mailed response to questions today. He declined to provide details.

Port Louis-based Capital newspaper reported that AfrAsia Bank Ltd., a closely held lender, has probably acquired the retail business of HSBC in the Indian Ocean island nation, without saying where it obtained the information.

“It would be premature at this stage to speculate on the outcome, and it really isn’t appropriate to comment on rumors or speculation,” Amelie Desvaux de Marigny, spokeswoman for HSBC, said in an e-mailed response to questions today from Ebene, south of the capital, Port Louis.

AfrAsia’s Port Louis-based spokeswoman, Suneeta Motala, is in Zimbabwe and couldn’t immediately be reached for comment, according to a person who answered her phone.

Bheenick said in a transcript of an interview published on its website on March 19 that HSBC wants to sell its retail segment to free up capital and focus on its offshore business.

London-based HSBC is “looking to reshape” its business for sustainable profit growth and HSBC Mauritius is part of the review, said Desvaux de Marigny.

To contact the reporter on this story: Kamlesh Bhuckory in Port Louis at kbhuckory@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Antony Sguazzin at asguazzin@bloomberg.net

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