MARKETS | Staff Reporter, China

ICBC buying Standard Bank’s London operations

Will shell out US$500 million.

The Standard Bank of South Africa, Ltd, one of South Africa's largest financial services groups, is selling its London operations to the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, according to media reports. ICBC is the world’s largest bank and already owns 20% of Standard Bank Group.

Analysts said a partial sale to ICBC would allow the struggling Standard Bank to redeploy the capital in London to high-growth markets in Africa. It would still give Standard Bank the opportunity to use the ICBC platform to execute on deals, especially those that are linked to South Africa.

Standard Bank said it is jointly exploring areas of greater cooperation with ICBC, including global markets and commodities where their respective strengths can be leveraged.

It posted a US$250 million loss in 2012 and had a cost to income ratio of 109.8% compared with 78.5% in 2011. Operating expenses stood at US$491 million.

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