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Standard Bank Group to off-load remaining 20% stake in ICBC Argentina

Standard Bank Group Ltd. will sell its remaining 20% stake in Industrial & Commercial Bank of China Ltd.'s Argentine business, subject to certain conditions and regulatory approvals in China and Argentina.

The South African banking group was given a put option by the Chinese lender under a shareholders' agreement when it agreed to sell stakes in Industrial & Commercial Bank of China (Argentina) SA, ICBC Investments Argentina SA, Sociedad Gerente de Fondos Comunes de Inversión and Inversora Diagonal SA — collectively ICBCA — to ICBC in 2012. Standard Bank Group retained a 20% shareholding in ICBCA via its Standard Bank London Holdings Ltd. unit.

The transaction will lead to a gain of some 600 million South African rand for Standard Bank Group, with the bank planning to invest the proceeds in its Africa expansion.

The put option, which will have expired Nov. 30, has a strike price of about $180.8 million.

JPMorgan Chase Bank NA Johannesburg Branch is serving as independent professional expert for Standard Bank Group for the transaction, which is expected to complete in the last quarter of 2019 or first half of 2020.

Standard Bank Group CEO Sim Tshabalala said the bank is planning to enter into new markets, particularly West Africa, Reuters reported Aug. 8.

"We're also saying that we're quite comfortable to contemplate appropriately priced acquisitions to the extent that they might fit with our risk appetite," he reportedly said after presenting the group's first-half results.

Standard Bank posted headline earnings of 13.36 billion rand for the first half, an increase from 12.66 billion rand in the same period in 2018.

As of Aug. 8, US$1 was equivalent to 15.02 South African rand.