* ICBC to take 80 pct of Standard Bank Argentina, affiliates
* To buy the stakes from a unit of Standard Bank Group
* ICBC to expand into South America as part of global push
* ICBC Hong Kong shares down 4.1% after global mkts dive
By Donny Kwok
HONG KONG, Aug 5 (Reuters) - Industrial and Commercial Bank of China Ltd (ICBC) said on Friday it would buy stakes in Standard Bank Argentina and two of its affiliates from Standard Bank Group Ltd for about $600 million as it expands into South America as part of its globalisation strategy.
The deal, which is conditional on approvals from domestic and foreign regulatory authorities, will give ICBC an 80 percent stake in Standard Bank Argentina and affiliates Standard Investments S.A. Sociedad Gerente de Fondos Comunes de Inversión and Inversora Diagonal Sociedad Anónima, it said in a filing with the Hong Kong bourse.
ICBC, the world’s biggest bank by market value, said it would buy the stakes from Standard Bank London Holdings Plc (SBL), a unit of Standard Bank Group, and Holding W-S De Inversiones S.A., funding the acquisition using internal resources.
SBL’s shareholding in the three institutions will be reduced to 20 percent on completion of the deal.
“The acquisition of the interest in Standard Bank Argentina would complement the bank’s overseas institutions, strengthen the bank’s branch and business network in Latin America, enhance the bank’s operation capability in America,” ICBC said.
Argentina’s center-left president, Cristina Fernandez, met with ICBC officials in Buenos Aires and said she asked the bank to present an investment plan to her government.
“We want investment but investment for the real economy, investment that will generate production, investment that sustains growth for Argentines,” Fernandez said in a televised speech.
Standard Bank Argentina, which is 75 percent owned by SBL and 25 percent by Holding W-S prior to the deal, is a full-service bank in Argentina offering a diverse range of banking products and services through its 103 branches in the country.
Standard Investments, a fund management company incorporated in Argentina, and Inversora Diagonal, a commercial service provider before the deal, are 70 percent owned by SBL and 30 percent by Holding W-S.
Shares in ICBC opened down 4.1 percent in Hong Kong on Friday, following a plunge in global stock markets.
American Express Co has assured ICBC it wants to keep its stake in the lender after entering into a contract to hedge fluctuations in the stock price, a source with direct knowledge of the matter told Reuters earlier this week.