Exxon mandates Barclays to find buyers for 30% stake in Hong Kong’s Castle Peak

US oil and gas giant Exxon Mobil Corp (NYSE:XOM) has mandated Barclays Plc (LON:BARC) to help it sell nearly half of its 60% stake in Hong Kong-based coal-fired power stations operator Castle Peak Power Co Ltd, informed people told Reuters.

According to the sources, Exxon has so far had no luck in its talks to divest the interest to CLP Holdings Ltd (HKG:0002) and state-controlled China Southern Power Grid as they had failed to reach an agreement on the valuation. CLP, which owns the other 40% in the business, is still eager to buy the offered stake as the operation brings guaranteed returns, one of the insiders said.

The auction could lure infrastructure funds, Japanese traders and sovereign wealth funds, the sources said, adding that first-round bids are expected in early April. They noted that the 60% interest was worth some USD3bn (EUR2.3bn) last March and half of it would be valued at nearly USD2bn, including a premium.

None of the parties commented to Reuters.

ING sells Malaysian insurance unit to Hong Kong-based AIA

 Dutch financial group ING Groep NV (AMS:INGA) said on Thursday it would sell its insurance business in Malaysia to Hong Kong-based insurer AIA Group Ltd (HKG:1299) for some EUR1.3bn (USD1.7bn) in cash.

Under the terms of the agreement, AIA is taking over ING’s Malaysian life insurance operations, its employee benefits business and its 60% in venture ING Public Takaful Ehsan Berhad, the vendor said.

The move marks ING’s first major step towards disposing of its insurance and investment management businesses in Asia, reflecting progress in its restructuring efforts, CEO Jan Hommen commented. The combination of this ING business with AIA’s operations in Malaysia will create a top player in this market with a good position for further growth, Hommen added.

The process for the sale of the rest of ING’s Asian insurance and investment management businesses is ongoing, the group said, adding it expected the disposal of its Malaysian insurance activities to result in a net gain of around EUR780m.

Completion is expected to take place in the first quarter of 2012, subject to securing regulatory clearances.

ING is among the major life insurers in Malaysia with a portfolio including life, general, employee benefits and Takaful, serving over 1.6m customers. The company has around 1,200 employees and 9,200 tied agents in the country.

Present in Malaysia since 1948, AIA’s footprint covers 15 countries in Asia Pacific, leading many of these markets.

Hong Kong-based NEVS closes deal to acquire bankrupt Saab Automobile

National Electric Vehicle Sweden AB (NEVS), which is owned by Hong Kong-based National Modern Energy Holdings Ltd, said today it had completed the acquisition of bankrupt Swedish carmaker Saab Automobile AB.

The deal includes intellectual property (IP) rights for the Saab 9-3, IP rights for the Phoenix platform, tools, the manufacturing plant and test and laboratory facilities, as well as all outstanding shares in the property company which owned the Saab facilities in Trollhattan, Sweden.

The transaction is in line with the company’s goal to become a leading manufacturer of electric vehicles, NEVS said without giving financial details. Its chairman, Karl-Erling Trogen, added that the company plans to launch its first electric vehicle based on Saab 9-3 technologies and a new technology electric power train in around 18 months.

The transaction comes after the buyer settled a dispute with truck maker Scania (STO:SCV B) and defence and aerospace group Saab AB (STO:SAAB B) on the use of the Saab brand name for its future vehicles. Thus, the company that will produce the vehicles will be named National Electric Vehicle Sweden AB or NEVS. It will use the Saab brand for its vehicles but without the current griffin symbol.

Kai Johan Jiang, founder and principal owner of National Modern Energy Holdings, which focuses on alternative energy, commented that through the purchase of Saab Automobile, the company would add capabilities for the development and manufacturing of electric cars, for which there is an increasing demand in China.

HSBC disposes of its take in Asian card processing venture for $242m

British banking group HSBC Holdings Plc (LON:HSBA) said on Friday that it had reached a deal to dispose of its 44% interest in a card processing joint venture in the Asia-Pacific region to partner Global Payments Inc (NYSE:GPN) for USD242m (EUR196.9m) in cash.

Under the terms of the agreement, HSBC’s wholly-owned subsidiary, The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corp Ltd, will sell its entire 44% stake in Global Payments Asia-Pacific Ltd (GPAP) to the US electronic transaction payment processing specialist. Global Payments holds the rest of the shares in GPAP after participating in the inception of the JV in 2006.

The move is part of HSBC’s strategy to divest non-core operations. It is awaiting regulatory clearance and the agreement of the terms of certain ancillary commercial contracts. Completion is scheduled for the second half of the year.

The parties have agreed that following closing, GPAP will act as the preferred strategic provider of card merchant acquiring services for HSBC in the Asia-Pacific region. The entity covers 11 countries and territories.

London-headquartered HSBC has about 7,200 offices in more than 80 countries and territories in Europe, North and Latin America, the Middle East and North Africa as well as in the Asia-Pacific region.