ICBC to buy stake in Standard Bank Argentina-reports

Fri Jun 17, 2011 5:16pm BST

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* Argentine media say deal worth $700 mln-$800 mln

* Standard Bank spokesman declines comment

BUENOS AIRES, June 17 (Reuters) - Standard Bank (SBKJ.J), Africa's largest lender by assets, will sell a majority stake in its Argentine operation to the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, Argentina newspapers reported on Friday.

Clarin newspaper said ICBC would buy 75 percent of shares in Standard Bank's Argentine unit for around $700 million, while financial daily El Cronista said it would purchase an 80 percent stake worth between $700 million and $800 million.

Both publications cited unnamed sources close to the deal. A Standard Bank spokesman in South Africa said the bank did not comment on speculation, and no one was immediately reachable at the bank's offices in Buenos Aires.

Johannesburg-based Standard Bank has held assets in Argentina since its 2006 purchase of BankBoston.

ICBC (601398.SS) (1398.HK), one of the world's biggest banks by market value and a 20 percent minority shareholder of Standard Bank, has an ambitious international expansion strategy that includes Latin America. [ID:nL3E7FE1V8] (Reporting by Hilary Burke and Guido Nejamkis; Additional reporting by David Dolan in Johannesburg; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)

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