UOB, ANZ may bid for Wing Hang Bank
Major Singapore, Australian lenders consider bidding for HK bank, sources say
Singapore's United Overseas Bank and Australia & New Zealand Banking Group are believed to be considering a bid for Hong Kong's Wing Hang Bank.
Wing Hang, which has a market capitalisation of US$4.7 billion, announced this month that its controlling shareholders had received preliminary offers from independent third parties to purchase their shares in the bank. It did not name the bidders.
Sources said yesterday that ANZ and UOB were among the companies considering a bid for the Hong Kong lender.
The Wall Street Journal also cited people familiar with the matter as saying UOB and ANZ had shown interest.
Wing Hang Bank is the second family-run Hong Kong lender to receive a takeover offer since August. Chong Hing Bank said it had received offers from multiple parties, without naming them.
A UOB spokesman said yesterday that the bank did not comment on market speculation.
An ANZ spokesman said: "From time to time we look at opportunities as part of our … regional strategy.
"However, we don't comment on market speculation."
Wing Hang Bank could not be reached for comment.
Mainland China's economic clout and the growth of the offshore yuan fixed-income market has made Hong Kong's mid-sized banks increasingly attractive to foreign lenders seeking a gateway to the mainland market and looking for growth outside their home markets.
New capital rules and competition from bigger rivals such as HSBC and Standard Chartered Bank have also given controlling shareholders of Hong Kong banks more incentive not to hold out for more lofty premiums that other local lenders commanded before the global financial crisis.
Hong Kong's Fung family, along with BNY International Financing Corp, control about 45 per cent of Wing Hang Bank, whose stock has soared since takeover talk started.
The Wall Street Journal reported this month that ANZ had dropped its US$900 million-plus bid for the main Australian businesses of British lender Lloyds Banking Group.
ANZ was among four parties shortlisted to buy Lloyds' asset finance and commercial lending units, but withdrew amid concerns about its ability to integrate the units with its Esanda financing arm, the Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter.
ANZ, Australia's third-largest bank by value, has been seeking to expand its business across Asia for several years, a vision held by current chief executive Mike Smith, who was formerly a top executive at HSBC.
Banks across Asia, from Japan to Singapore, are also aggressively expanding beyond their borders, looking for higher-growth markets.