Goldman Sachs sells remaining ICBC stake for $1.1 billion

Updated: 2013-05-21 11:06

By Chris Davis in New York (China Daily)

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Goldman Sachs sells remaining ICBC stake for $1.1 billion

Industrial and Commercial Bank of China Ltd signage is displayed outside one of the company's branches in Beijing. Goldman Sachs sold the remaining stakes in ICBC. Tomohiro Ohsumi / Bloomberg

Goldman Sachs Group Inc has sold its remaining stake in Beijing-based Industrial and Commercial Bank of China Ltd for about $1.1 billion, ending one of the earliest, and most lucrative, investments by a Wall Street bank in a Chinese counterpart.

The Wall Street Journal cited a person familiar with the matter as saying from Hong Kong on Tuesday that Goldman Sachs sold its ICBC shares for HK$5.50 (71 US cents), at the top end of a price range that started at HK$5.47 and a 2.5 percent discount to Monday's closing price.

At the $1.1 billion price, Goldman's total gross from a series of ICBC stake sales would be $10.1 billion, Reuters reported earlier.

Through this year's first quarter, Goldman Sachs had made net gains of $3.47 billion from its ICBC holdings, which it began accumulating in 2006 when State-owned ICBC was technically insolvent and became one of the first Chinese banks to accept foreign investors as shareholders.

Goldman Sachs bought a 4.9 percent stake for $2.58 billion just before ICBC held an initial public offering on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.

Since then, ICBC's growth has kept pace with China's economic boom. Its current $240 billion market value makes it the world's biggest bank in assets and profits, and close to the combined market value of JP Morgan Chase & Co and Barclays PLC.

"We are proud to have been so closely associated with ICBC as a partner and investor since 2006 during its transformation into the market-leading financial institution it is today," Michael DuVally, a Goldman Sachs spokesman, told China Daily on Monday. "We are committed to maintaining a strong relationship."

ICBC shares rose 1.44 percent on Monday's news of a possible sale. So far this year, they have gained 2.6 percent compared with a 2.1 percent decrease in the main index that tracks Hong Kong-listed Chinese companies. Last year ICBC posted its slowest net-profit growth in five years.

Goldman Sachs has been reducing its stake in the Chinese lender, with its most recent sale in January when it raised $1 billion. ICBC recently reported a 12 percent increase in first-quarter profit while extending 25 percent more in loans than in the first quarter of 2012.

The offer comes a week after US-based fund firm Black Rock Inc sold 27.4 million shares in ICBC, reducing its stake in the Chinese bank to just under 6 percent.