Alibaba Finance Arm, UBS Said to Bid for China Postal Bank Stake

Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.’s financial affiliate and UBS Group AG are among initial bidders for a minority stake being sold by Postal Savings Bank of China Co., people with the knowledge of the matter said.

The sale by Postal Savings Bank, which has the most outlets of any Chinese lender, could raise more than $3 billion, two of the people said. The stake has also drawn interest from Singapore’s state investment company Temasek Holdings Pte, one person said, asking not to be identified as the matter is private.

Postal Savings Bank is bringing in outside investors as Chinese President Xi Jinping calls for more market discipline at state-owned enterprises. The lender, with nearly 40,000 outlets nationwide and more than 470 million retail customers, is seeking partners that can help it develop its lending operations and introduce new business areas.

The bank is selling the stake ahead of a planned initial public offering in Hong Kong and Shanghai that could raise more than $4 billion, people with knowledge of the matter said in June. Its Hong Kong share sale could start as soon as the fourth quarter, with the Shanghai portion to follow later, people with knowledge of the situation said in January.

Representatives for Temasek, UBS and Zhejiang Ant Small & Micro Financial Services Group Co., as the Alibaba affiliate is formally known, declined to comment. A call to the mobile phone of Postal Savings Bank’s press officer went unanswered, as did a call made after business hours to the lender’s general line.

Reuters reported Wednesday in Hong Kong that UBS and Temasek are among companies that submitted preliminary bids for as much as a 10 percent stake in Postal Savings Bank, citing unidentified people.

Postal Savings Bank had 5.57 trillion yuan ($899 billion) of assets at the end of 2013, making it the country’s sixth-largest lender by that measure.

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