Standard Bank Considers Sale of London Global Markets Unit

Standard Bank Group Ltd., Africa’s largest lender, said it’s in talks to sell a controlling stake in its global markets business outside the continent.

“The principal legal entity that would form part of a transaction is Standard Bank Plc, the group’s London banking operation,” the Johannesburg-based lender said in a statement today. The bank said it would retain a minority stake to ensure access to the business for its African network and clients.

Standard Bank said in July it was exploring closer cooperation with its biggest shareholder Industrial & Commercial Bank of China on its global markets and commodities businesses. Standard Bank’s renewed focus on Africa and withdrawal from other emerging markets weakens the case for keeping some of the investment banking operations it runs from London, where it has been cutting jobs to reduce costs.

Standard Bank needs to “finally wrap up the process of exiting non-core regions and repatriating the capital,” Neville Chester, who helps oversee the equivalent of $44 billion at Coronation Fund Managers Ltd. in Cape Town, said in an e-mailed response to questions on Nov. 6.

Standard Bank sold the bulk of its operations in Argentina to ICBC last year. ICBC was buying part of Standard Bank’s London operations for $500 million, Reuters reported in July, citing two people familiar with the matter.

Global Markets

Standard Bank’s global markets unit forms part of the lender’s corporate and investment banking division. The global markets team, with some staff in London, offers the bank’s clients trading and other services involving foreign exchange, interest rates, credit, equities and commodities.

The transaction only involves the global markets business and not the lender’s wider investment and corporate banking operations outside Africa, Standard Bank said in a separate statement.

Standard Bank was little changed at 124.51 rand by the close in Johannesburg, bringing this year’s gain to 4.7 percent.

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