Standard Chartered Is in Talks to Buy Indian Broker: FT

Standard Chartered is planning to return to retail stockbroking in Asia for the first time in more than a decade with a proposal to buy a brokerage network in India, the Financial
Times reported on Monday.

The UK-based emerging markets bank is in exclusive talks with Securities Trading Corporation of India (STCI) to buy an initial 49% stake in India's UTI Securities for about 1.4 billion rupees (US$35 million), the paper said, quoting people familiar with the deal.

News of the deal was first reported by India's Economic Times two weeks ago. The deal, designed to complement Standard Chartered's wealth management business in India, was expected to be sealed within the next few months.

Standard Chartered has signed a memorandum of understanding with STCI to acquire UTI Securities, a former arm of the state-owned financial group of the same name, and was conducting a final round of due diligence, the FT reported.

Under the deal, it will buy 49% of UTI Securities now, before increasing its stake to 74% next year and taking full control in 2009. The brokerage has 170 branches across the country.