MF Global's operations in Asia and Australia have received nearly 40 credible offers and a sale is expected to be agreed by the end of the weekend, the provisional liquidator for the brokerage's Hong Kong unit told Reuters on Friday.
We've got 30 to 40 parties that have contacted us, we're proceeding on a sale process already, said Patrick Cowley, a principal for KPMG in Hong Kong.
That sale process is a process that will be materially advanced soon -- so hopefully bids in and the outcome determined by the end of the weekend, he added.
Cowley said he was working with the brokerage's other administrators in Australia and Singapore to try and sell the Asia-Pacific operations to a single buyer.
It is an integrated platform and so we start from the belief that the most value will be to a party looking to take on Australia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan, and that's the response we are getting from interested parties?, he said.
Interested parties for the brokerage in Asia include major financial institutions, MF Global's previous competitors and other regional institutions looking to either get a foothold in the Asian market or expand their options and derivatives franchises, said Cowley.
The rush of interest in the brokerage, which only appointed liquidators in Hong Kong on Wednesday morning, reflects the fact it had a strong market share in several Asian markets said analysts.
MF Global was one of the leading brokerages at many of the exchanges here such as Australia and Singapore, so it has a very strong network in Asia-Pacific which is one factor which makes it very attractive, said Anshuman Jaswal, a senior analyst at financial services consultancy Celent.
The group has offices in Australia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan and Taipei, along with a representative office in Shanghai and a joint venture in India with Sify Technologies Ltd
KPMG's Cowley refrained from giving any indication on what kind of price the liquidators were hoping to achieve for the Asian business, but said he and his fellow administrators were pushing for a strong valuation.
There are a lot of people on my side of the table that are very incentivised to attain the maximum price for what was a very strong franchise, Cowley said.
MF Global's last annual report said it generated around 14.4 percent of its global revenue in Asia during the 2010-2011 financial year, which would be around $321.6 million (200.8 million pounds) before interest and transaction-based expenses.
Asia is the main growth focus for many financial institutions given the ongoing economic and fiscal problems in western markets, which is likely to add to the attractiveness of MF Global's regional operations.
While it seems like a large number of bidders, it certainly fits in with the trend of the current growth in the Asian financial services industry, said Celent's Jaswal.
KPMG's Cowley said that if terms were agreed on a sale over the weekend, contracts would probably be signed early next week and the transaction completed a couple of weeks afterwards.
U.S. regulators are hunting for around $600 million in missing customer money following the failure of MF Global, but Cowley said so far there was no indication of any unaccounted for client funds in Asia.
At this stage we are not aware here in Hong Kong or elsewhere in the region that there is anything amiss with client funds, he said.
The brokerage's administrators said earlier this week that they were being hampered in their efforts to retrieve client money from some overseas exchanges but Cowley said that situation is now improving.
After the initial hiatus certain exchanges have opened up to allow MF Global clients to close-out or transfer their positions which represents progress, said Cowley.
(Additonal reporting by Denny Thomas in HONG KONG; Editing by Alex Richardson)