Goldman in Lead to Take Biggest Share of Huarong Stake, FT Says

Goldman Sachs Group Inc. is leading the race to take the biggest share of a stake in China Huarong Asset Management Co. before a stock sale by the so-called bad bank, the Financial Times reported, citing two people close to the transaction.

Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and Deutsche Bank AG have held talks about investing in Huarong Asset’s $1.5 billion share sale ahead of a planned listing in Hong Kong next year, the FT said. The newspaper cited another unnamed banker as saying only a few meetings had been held and a deal is not expected until December.

Eddie Naylor, a spokesman for Goldman Sachs, declined to comment. Jeremy Hughes, a Deutsche Bank spokesman, declined to immediately comment. A Morgan Stanley spokeswoman couldn’t immediately be reached for comment. Phone calls to Beijing-based China Huarong’s press office went unanswered.

Huarong Asset said in October it would seek Chinese and foreign strategic investors and sell shares in local and overseas markets. The nation’s Ministry of Finance owns 98.06 percent of the company, while China Life Insurance (Group) Co. holds the rest, the ministry said in September. China Life is the parent of publicly traded China Life Insurance Co.

Huarong Asset had first-half profit after provisions of 7.5 billion yuan ($1.2 billion), the most among the four asset management companies the government set up in the 1990s to dispose of non-performing loans at the nation’s biggest banks, according to a July 24 statement on the firm’s website.

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