Beijing, August 5, 2011 - Industrial and Commercial Bank of China Limited ("ICBC") announced that the Bank has reached agreement with The Standard Bank of South Africa Limited ("Standard Bank") on the sale and purchase of 80 percent stake in Standard Bank Argentina and its two affiliates, a fund management company - Standard Investments S.A. and a business service provider- Inversora Diagonal S.A.). The agreement has been signed on August 4, 2011 (Argentina time) in Buenos Aires. Both parties will proceed to obtain approvals from domestic and foreign regulatory authorities. ICBC will be responsible for the operation and management of the Standard Bank Argentina and its two affiliates after the transaction is completed.
Argentina is the second largest economy in South America with strong potential. Economic and trade between China and Argentina has been growing rapidly for the past few years. No Chinese bank has established presence in Argentina yet. Argentina offers a good growth potential and is one of the key focus markets for ICBC's expansion in South America. Standard Bank Argentina, a holding subsidiary of Standard Bank in Argentina, is 75% owned by Standard Bank London Holdings Plc ("SBL"), a unit of Standard Bank Group Limited, and 25% by two Argentina shareholders, the Werthein and Sielecki families. Standard Bank Argentina holds licences in all banking businesses, including retail banking, corporate banking and investment banking. The Bank ranks 12th in terms of assets in the Argentine market.
Pursuant to the agreement, ICBC will pay USD 600 million to SBL and the holding companies of the Werthein and Sielecki families, for SBL's stakes in Standard Bank Argentina and two affiliates (55% and 50% respectively) and for the ownership stakes of the Werthein and Sielecki families in Standard Bank Argentina and two affiliates (25% and 30% respectively). After the acquisition, ICBC holds 80 percent stake in Standard Bank Argentina and the two affiliates. SBL's shareholding in the three institutions will be reduced to 20%.
"The conclusion of the deal is a win-win situation for all parties", said ICBC Chairman Jiang Jianqing. "The acquisition of the 80% stake in Standard Bank Argentina will allow ICBC to hold a commercial bank license in Argentina and make the Bank the first Chinese financial institution to enter the local market. The move is of strategic importance. If the deal goes through, it would strengthen ICBC's branch and business network in Latin America, enhance the Bank's operation capability in the Americas. As a result, ICBC can better serve the booming bilateral trade between China and Argentina."
Standard Bank Group CEO, Mr. Jacko Maree said: "We are pleased to hold stake in the Argentine operations with ICBC and reinforce our strategic partnership with ICBC. We are satisfied with our performance in Argentina. The deal will allow us to continue participating in driving the growth of our business in Argentina, where we can continue to offer services to customers in Argentina, Africa and other emerging markets. The sale of our Argentina unit concluded at fair market value, is in line with Standard Bank's re-alignment of strategy, which is to reduce capital investment outside Africa".
Closing of the transaction is subject to obtaining regulatory approvals from the China Banking Regulatory Commission, Central Bank of Argentina and related regulatory authorities.
Standard Bank Argentina
In July, 2005, Standard Bank acquired ING's subsidiary in Argentina to form the Standard Bank Argentina. In April, 2007, Standard Bank joined with the Werthein and Sielecki families to buy Bank of America's branch in Argentina - BankBoston Argentina established in 1917. BankBoston Argentina was merged into Standard Bank Argentina after the acquisition. As of end of March, 2011, Standard Bank Argentina has a network of 103 branches in 17 Argentine provinces, offering a diverse range of banking products and services to customers through different : call center, internet banking and mobile banking.
Industrial and Commercial Bank of China Limited
ICBC, the world's biggest listed bank by market value, profitability, customer deposit and brand value, has a solid customer base and diversified business structure, strong innovation capability and market competitiveness. ICBC provides comprehensive financial products and services to over 4 million corporate clients and around 260 million individual customers through its 16,000+ outlets in China, 203 overseas branches and subsidiaries and around 1,500 correspondent banks globally, as well as Internet Banking, Telephone Banking and self-service banking. With a global business network covering commercial banking across different markets, ICBC holds leading position in domestic and overseas markets in most of the commercial banking businesses. For more information on ICBC, please visit www.icbc.com.cn.
Standard Bank Group Limited and Standard Bank London Holdings Plc (SBL)
Standard Bank is the largest commercial bank in South Africa. ICBC owns 20 percent equity in Standard Bank Group. The Bank is listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange and the Namibian Stock Exchange, the second stock exchange for the bank publicly traded. SBL is an investment holding company registered in England and a wholly owned subsidiary of Standard Bank.