BOC Hong Kong May Sell Nanyang and Buy Asean Assets From Parent

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BOC Hong Kong Holdings Ltd., controlled by China’s fourth-largest lender, said it may sell its Nanyang Commercial Bank Ltd. unit and buy banking operations and assets in Southeast Asia from its parent.

Both transactions require approval from China’s Ministry of Finance, BOC H.K. and parent Bank of China Ltd. said in a joint statement to Hong Kong stock exchange on Thursday.

The sale of Nanyang “would be consistent with the long term development strategy of the group in Hong Kong and would enable a better allocation of resources,” the companies said, without giving a timetable.

BOC Hong Kong said Jan. 29 it was reviewing its portfolio with a view to a possible sale of banking assets. The bank would prefer Chinese buyers for Nanyang, as they might benefit more from cross-border business ties, and the state-backed lender doesn’t want to be perceived by the government as selling on the cheap to foreign buyers, people familiar with the matter said in March.

Beijing-based Bank of China’s transfer of assets and operations in some Association of Southeast Asian Nations members to BOC H.K. will “accelerate the enhancement of customer service, product innovation and marketing capability and competitive edge of the group in the Asean region,” the companies said on Thursday.

Hong Kong-based Nanyang had 42 branches in the city and 14 in mainland China at the end of 2013, with HK$280.4 billion ($36.2 billion) of consolidated assets, according to its annual report.