Top HSBC shareholder Ping An will retain investment in bank, source says, amid sale talk

HONG KONG: Ping An Asset Management, HSBC Holdings PLC's largest shareholder, will continue to hold its investment in the Asia-focussed lender, a source close to the Chinese fund manager said on Friday, after reports it was considering selling more shares.

"We continue to be positive about HSBC and will continue to hold the investment," said the source, who declined to be identified because of the matter's sensitivity.

Ping An Asset Management, a wholly-owned unit of Ping An Insurance, did not immediately reply to Reuters' request for comment. A spokesperson for HSBC in Hong Kong declined to comment.

Bloomberg News reported on Thursday, citing people familiar with the matter, that Ping An was considering options to reduce its 8% stake in the London-headquartered bank, which generates the bulk of its revenue and profit in Asia.

Ping An, which emerged as a major shareholder in HSBC in 2017, has had a tumultuous relationship with the lender in the recent past. It has sold HSBC shares worth $50 million so far this month.

Ping An had been pushing the lender to implement a slew of reforms, including spinning off its lucrative Asia business. HSBC defeated a resolution last year to potentially spin off the Asia business.

HSBC's Chairman Mark Tucker told the bank's shareholders in Hong Kong last month that a spin-off of its Asian business will not happen. The bank, however, has stepped up its Asia pivot and has shrunk its once globe-spanning empire.

"HSBC is our long-term financial investment. The bank has maintained unique competitive advantage in Asia. We are confident of its long-term development," Ping An Asset Management said on Friday in response to the Bloomberg story. - Reuters

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