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Moody's: ICBC's purchase of 20% stake in Argentina unit is credit positive

Industrial & Commercial Bank of China Ltd.'s purchase of the remaining 20% stake in Industrial & Commercial Bank of China (Argentina) SA that it does not own is credit positive for the bank's Argentina unit, Moody's said.

The rating agency said Aug. 15 that the sale reinforces ICBC's commitment to its Argentine operation amid the country's macroeconomic crisis and significant market volatility.

Earlier in August, South Africa-based Standard Bank Group Ltd. agreed to sell its 20% stake in ICBC (Argentina) to ICBC for US$180.8 million through the exercise of a put option. The deal is subject to regulatory approvals in China and Argentina.

Standard Bank Group was granted a put option by the Chinese lender in 2012 under a shareholders' agreement giving the South African banking group the right to sell all of its stake in ICBC (Argentina) by Nov. 30.

Moody's does not expect any changes to ICBC (Argentina)'s management team or operations after it becomes a wholly-owned unit of ICBC.