NEW YORK (
Bank of America's
much-anticipated sale of a multibillion dollar stake in China Construction Bank Corp. (CCB) appears more likely following recent comments by officials at the Chinese bank.
Speaking to reporters in Beijing on Monday, CCB officials said Bank of America has committed to holding no less than a 5% stake in CCB for the long term, The Wall Street Journal reported Monday. That means Bank of America has room to sell half of its 10% stake in the Chinese lender.
While Bank of America has emphasized its "long-term strategic partnership" with CCB, it has not ruled out a sale of part of the stake, which analysts have been expecting. U.S. companies and investors have had difficulties extracting themselves from Chinese investments due to long lockup periods.
Bank of America still faces obstacles to a sale, according to a report by the
Aug. 11. According to that newspaper, Bank of America has already been trying to unload part of its stake, but other deep-pocketed investors in Chinese banks such as sovereign wealth funds in Asia and the Middle East are showing little appetite due to an expected flood of equity offerings from Chinese banks. According to that report, citing anonymous bankers, Bank of America's stake was once worth $20 billion, "but is now believed to be worth several billion less."
At least one other concern for Bank of America may have been quelled by the CCB officials statements, however. The FT report raised the possibility of a rights offering by CCB in which Bank of America might have been forced to participate--increasing its stake even further in the Chinese bank. However The Wall Street Journal report cited a statement by Zhang Jianguo, CCB President, that the bank has "no additional plan to raise capital in the near term" beyond a planned $12.5 billion debt offering.
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