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HSBC Said to Plan Sale of Principal Direct Investment Arm

HSBC Holdings Plc, Europe’s largest bank, hired Campbell Lutyens & Co. to consider the sale of its direct investment unit, said three people with knowledge of the matter, who asked not to be named because the talks are private.

The unit, Direct Principal Investments, provides $25 million to $75 million in funding for leveraged buyouts and companies seeking to grow or restructure, according to HSBC’s website.

Banks including Credit Suisse Group AG and Citigroup Inc. are cutting back private-equity holdings to focus on their main businesses. Citigroup, the third-biggest U.S. lender, in September agreed to sell its emerging-markets buyout unit to the Rohatyn Group to comply with new curbs on bank investments. Credit Suisse, Switzerland’s second-biggest bank, in August sold its private-equity, infrastructure and real estate investment business to Grosvenor Capital Management LP.

Direct Principal and KKR & Co. both have stakes in Norwegian software-services provider Visma AS. The HSBC unit and Inflexion Private Equity Partners LLP are investors in U.K.- based oil-services company Viking Moorings Ltd.

Spokesmen for HSBC and Campbell Lutyens, both based in London, declined to comment.

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