HSBC in talks to sell stake in Chinese insurance firm Ping An

British banking and financial services group HSBC Holdings Plc (LON:HSBA) on Monday said it was negotiating the sale of its 15.57% stake in Chinese insurer Ping An Insurance (Group) Company of China Ltd (HKG:2318).

The statement followed a report by the Hong Kong Economic Journal about ongoing talks over a disposal. According to the paper, Thai billionaire Dhanin Chearavanont’s Charoen Pokphand Group could be a potential buyer.

The stake’s value is around USD9.3bn (EUR7.3bn) Reuters said, while Bloomberg reported it was worth USD9.5bn before the opening today in Hong Kong.

HSBC warned that the current discussions were not certain to result in a sale.
The British group took 10.1% in Ping An in 2002 for some USD600m and spent another USD1.1bn in 2005 to increase its stake in the Chinese insurer to 19.9%. This interest fell to 15.6% in 2010 when HSBC refused to participate in a rights issue at Ping An.

HSBC has been selling non-core operations since it announced a plan in May 2011 to increase profitability. From the start of last year to the date, the bank has announced 41 disposals and closures.