×

UPDATE 1-China's Geely in $300 mln deal to control Denmark's Saxo Bank

* Geely to hike stake in Saxo Bank to 51.5 pct from 30 pct

* The carmaker will pay more than $300 mln for the increase

* Part of Beijing's swoop on European financial assets (Recasts, adds background, quote, details)

COPENHAGEN, Oct 2 (Reuters) - Chinese carmaker Zhejiang Geely Holding Group will increase its stake in Denmark's Saxo Bank to above 50 percent in a $300 million-plus deal that highlights China's drive to tap the expertise of European financial firms.

Beijing has generally been trying to slow the pace of overseas investments by Chinese companies, worried about capital outflows. But there are signs the authorities are still supportive of investments in foreign financial firms, particularly to access new technologies.

Last month Legend Holdings, which owns computer maker Lenovo, bought Banque Internationale a Luxembourg (BIL) for 1.48 billion euros ($1.76 billion).

Also last month, sources familiar with the matter said two of Chinas most acquisitive conglomerates, HNA Group and Anbang Insurance Group, had separately considered bidding for the German insurer Allianz SE.

Geely said in May it would take a 30 percent stake in Saxo Bank as part of a diversification drive. It is the first major investment into financial services for the Chinese company that owns Swedish carmaker Volvo.

Despite its name, Saxo Bank derives most of its income from its online trading platforms for private foreign exchange traders and others, rather than traditional banking.

"Saxo Bank is an attractive investment for Geely because the bank, as a FinTech (financial technology) and RegTech (regulatory technology) company, has always had its main focus on technology," a Geely spokesman said in an email to Reuters.

He said Geely believed Saxo Bank's technologies and product value could be expanded across Asia.

Finland's Sampo Oyj also said on Monday it would buy a 19.9 percent stake in Saxo Bank for 265 million euros ($311 million).

A spokesman for Saxo Bank told Reuters Geely would buy its shares under the same terms as Sampo. Geely's spokesman said the Chinese company would not comment on the price paid.

Current Saxo Bank shareholders TPG Capital and SinarMas have accepted the offers from Geely and Sampo and will sell their stakes of 29.26 percent and 9.9 percent respectively, Saxo said.

Saxo's chief executive Kim Fournais, who founded the company with Lars Seier Christensen and Marc Hauschildt in 1992, will keep his 25.71 percent stake. Christensen agreed in May to sell his shares to Geely.

Saxo Bank has 1,600 employees in 18 countries and made operating revenue of 2.9 billion Danish crowns ($457.46 million) last year. Geely has over 60,000 employees across the world.

($1 = 0.8522 euros)

($1 = 6.3393 Danish crowns) (Additional reporting by Rachel Armstrong; Editing by Jacob Gronholt-Pedersen and Mark Potter)