Updated from 1:39 a.m. EDTGoldman Sachs ( GS) is considering selling part of its 4.9% stake in Industrial & Commercial Bank of China, a move that could raise more than $1 billion, the Wall Street Journal reports, citing several people familiar with the matter. Talks between Goldman and ICBC about a sale began late last year and include potentially divesting 15% to 20% of Goldman's stake in the Chinese bank. The Financial Times reports that sale of the stake in ICBC could raise $1.5 billion. According to the Journal, Goldman's shares in ICBC are valued at about $7.5 billion. Any transaction would have to wait until late next month, when a lockup on half the stake is set to expire. Since it received $10 billion from the U.S. government last October, Goldman has looked to repay those funds, the Journal reports. Cutting its stake in ICBC would garner just a fraction of that $10 billion, but it would help Goldman bolster its cash position without dipping into its current cash reserves, the Journal adds. The New York Times, meanwhile, reports Tuesday that Goldman is planning to give back its Troubled Asset Relief Program money soon, ideally within the next month, according to people involved in the process. That's a much quicker timetable than the end-of-year goal previously set out by CEO Lloyd Blankfein, the Times reports. Wang Zhenning, an official in the news office of ICBC, said he wasn't aware of any talks with Goldman over its stake, the Journal reports.
Bloomberg reports Tuesday that ICBC may announce that Goldman has no immediate plans to reduce its stake. The statement will be released together with ICBC's full-year earnings announcement, Bloomberg reports, citing three people with direct knowledge of the matter. The two companies are still discussing final details of the statement, one of the people said.