Legend buying Luxembourg bank for US$1.76 billion

Legend Holdings will take 90 per cent stake in Banque Internationale à Luxembourg

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 02 September, 2017, 12:18am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 06 September, 2017, 6:45pm

Legend Holdings said it will buy a 90 per cent stake in Banque Internationale à Luxembourg for €1.48 billion (US$1.76 billion).

Legend, a Chinese investment holdings company, has investments in the financial, agriculture and IT sectors, of which Lenovo, China’s largest personal computer firm, is the best known.

Legend also acquired IBM’s global PC business in 2004.

“This is an important and exciting strategic investment for Legend,” said Liu Chuanzhi, founder and chairman of Legend Holdings in a statement. “Financial services is one of Legend Holdings’ key target industries.”

Banque Internationale à Luxembourg is the oldest multi-business bank in Luxembourg and is involved in retail, private and corporate banking.

The bank’s existing management will remain in place following the acquisition, but Legend said in its statement that it would invest further in the brand and the company’s employees.

Legend will purchase the stake from Precision Capital, a holding company representing the private interests of members of a family in Qatar.

Confidence in Chinese outbound investment has declined this year because of tighter restrictions on capital leaving China and a crackdown on some of the country’s most acquisitive firms. This deal though may provide a fillip to the sector.

Overseas real estate and soccer clubs in crosshairs as China ramps up investment clampdown

In August, the State Council issued new rules codifying the industry areas that would be encouraged, restricted or banned under the new rules.

Financial services were not included in the restricted list, and in fact, overseas financial institutions, particularly in Europe, have been an attractive target for Chinese acquirers, because of their potential to facilitate further expansion into Europe through either funding or expertise, as well as their low valuations.

Chinese conglomerate HNA now holds a nearly 10 per cent stake in Deutsche Bank, while rival Fosun holds just under 25 per cent of Portugal’s largest privately owned bank BCP.

But China’s banking regulator, the CBRC, ordered in June that local banks investigate highly acquisitive conglomerates, including HNA and Fosun.

Thanks to the curbs on overseas acquisitions, the value of mainland China-led M & As fell by more than half year on year in the first half of this year to US$64.4 billion, from last year’s US$130.9 billion, according to PwC analysis.

However, this calculation was affected by ChemChina’s record US$43 billion acquisition of Syngenta, and the number of transactions in the first half of this year was broadly similar to the first half of last year.

China’s outbound investment to further grow after the party congress, says PwC

“Deals with a clear strategic rationale, particularly those (that) can add value to China, continued to win support,” David Brown transaction services leader for PwC China and Hong Kong, said last week.

Legend’s acquisition of Banque Internationale à Luxembourg is expected to close in the first quarter of 2018, subject to approval from the European Central Bank, Luxembourg’s financial regulator, the Commission de Surveillance du Secteur Financier, and other relevant regulatory authorities, as well as Legend group’s shareholders.