Goldman Sachs May Sell Its Stock In China Bank ICBC

Goldman Sachs is said to be in talks to sell some of its 4.9% stake in Industrial & Commercial Bank of China Ltd, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Goldman Sachs
Goldman Sachs

The move could reportedly raise more than $1 billion, people close to the talks say.

Discussions between Goldman and ICBC about a sale reportedly began late in 2008.

But Wang Zhenning, an official in the news office of ICBC, said Monday that he wasn't aware of any talks with Goldman over its stake.

Earlier this month, ICBC Chairman Jiang Jianqing told reporters that his bank was in talks with its strategic investors about a possible stake sale, but that a final decision hadn't been made.

Goldman's shares in ICBC are valued at about $7.5 billion. But any transaction would have to wait until late April, when a lockup on half the stake is set to expire.

Just last week, China made it more difficult for foreign institutions to buy or sell blocks of stock in Chinese financial firms. It cited a need to protect national assets.

The new rules include a requirement that trades in Chinese financial firms by foreigners must be executed on a stock exchange at prevailing market prices. They are set to take place on May 1 of this year.

It is unclear whether those rules would affect any possible sale by Goldman.

Goldman paid $2.6 billion for its stake in ICBC in 2006.

Goldman's move to reduce its ICBC stake is said to be motivated by a desire to curb a "concentrated" position that hasn't been hedged because of the terms of its initial agreement with the Chinese bank.