(Reuters) - Standard Chartered is selling its Hong Kong and Shenzhen consumer finance businesses to a consortium that includes a Chinese state firm, helping the emerging markets-focused lender to clinch its biggest asset disposal as part of a restructuring.
In what is expected to be the first of many divestitures, Standard Chartered has agreed to sell the units for between $600 million (£383 million) to $700 million, people familiar with the matter told Reuters. Standard Chartered announced the sale deal on Tuesday but did not disclose the value of the transaction.
The buying consortium includes China Travel Financial Holdings, U.S. hedge fund York Capital Management Global Advisors and financial firm Pepper Australia Pty Ltd.
The consortium will sell a portfolio of residential mortgages with a book value of approximately HK$5.9 billion (£485.94 million) to The Bank of East Asia on completion of the deal, Standard Chartered said.
China Travel is a state-owned enterprise operating in the travel business and is seeking to expand into the financial services sector, hoping to cross-sell products to its existing clients, one of the people said.
Bankers expect Chinese financial services sector firms to step up overseas acquisitions. Last week, Haitong Securities agreed to buy Portugal's Banco Espirito Santo de Investimento SA for 379 million euros.
Standard Chartered's shares have come under pressure due to slower growth in Asia and after being set costly fines by U.S. regulators for breaching Iran sanctions in 2012.
Standard Chartered, like its regional peers, is focusing on shoring up its main corporate banking business to better absorb a slowdown in economic growth and lending in emergingmarkets.
Morgan Stanley is advising Standard Chartered on the sale of the Hong Kong and Shenzhen consumer finance businesses, sources have said earlier.
Pepper is a specialty mortgage lender, third-party loan servicer and an asset manager, with businesses in the United Kingdom and Australia.