Stanchart, DBS, HSBC among bidders for SocGen Asia private bank -sources

Reuters

SINGAPORE/HONG KONG, Oct 3 (Reuters) - Standard CharteredPLC, DBS Group Holdings Ltd and HSBC PLC have submitted first round bids for Societe Generale's Asian private bank valued at $600 million, peopleinvolved in the sale told Reuters.

SocGen, France's second-largest bank by marketcapitalisation, is selling the unit as part of widerrestructuring to cut costs and boost profits, Reuters previouslyreported. Its 15-year foothold in Asia makes it an attractivebuy, sources said.

Credit Suisse and at least one U.S. financialinstitution are among 10 firms placing preliminary bids for theunit that manages about $13 billion worth of assets, said thepeople, who asked not to be named because the details are notpublic.

SocGen is the third major global financial institution toseek the sale of its Asian wealth arm in the last five yearsafter Bank of America Corp and ING Groep. Rapidgrowth in the lower end of the wealth market - serving peoplewith at least $1 million to invest - favours private banks withwider networks, pressuring smaller players who tend to targetonly the very rich.

SocGen's private banking unit is small compared with thoseof larger competitors in Asia's wealth management market such asCitigroup Ltd and UBS AG, which each manage $200billion in assets.

Some bids will not be more than $300 million, the peoplesaid, showing the gap in price sought by seller and suitors.

The French bank is restructuring its asset-gatheringoperations after recently combining them with its corporate andinvestment bank under Head of Corporate and Investment BankingDidier Valet.

Earlier this year, it sold its Japanese private bank toSumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp for an undisclosed sum.

JPMorgan is advising SocGen, the people said.

Spokespeople for SocGen and JPMorgan declined to comment.Officials at DBS, Credit Suisse, HSBC and Standard Charteredalso declined to comment.

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