Press Release

White & Case Advises Industrial and Commercial Bank of China Ltd on Acquisition of Majority Stake in Standard Bank plc

Global law firm White & Case LLP has advised the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China Limited (ICBC), the world's largest bank by assets, on its acquisition for around US$770 million of a majority stake in Standard Bank plc (SB plc).

ICBC has agreed to buy 60 percent of the existing issued shares in SB plc from Standard Bank London Holdings Limited, an intermediate holding company of South Africa's Standard Bank Group Limited (SBG) which is established in the UK and the direct shareholder of SB plc, by means of a Share Purchase Agreement.

New York-based partner Francis Zou, who leads the Firm's relationship with ICBC, said: "The result of the deal is a joint venture between ICBC and Standard Bank Group, Asia's largest bank and Africa's largest bank, to develop and grow the global markets business to which Standard Bank plc will be dedicated, providing services to global clients through affiliates and operations in London, New York, Singapore, Hong Kong, Dubai, Tokyo and Shanghai."

Mr Zou added: "ICBC believes that, by taking advantage of its Chinese and global client portfolio and renminbi capabilities and SGB's global markets capabilities and current client base, the joint venture will explore new business opportunities with high growth potential, serve the clients of both parties and the needs of Chinese clients for global commodities, foreign exchange, interest rate, credit, equity and risk hedging. At the same time, it will steadily develop its existing global markets business and become a financial markets business platform that will satisfy the strategic needs of both ICBC and SBG."

Licensed as a bank in the UK in 1992, SB plc has an active global markets business that includes commodities, foreign exchange, interest rate, credit and equity trading. It has also, historically, engaged in other business activities such as corporate lending and investment banking which, as part of the Share Purchase Agreement, will be carved out prior to the transaction's completion.

London-based partner Philip Broke who, with Mr Zou, led the Firm's team on behalf of ICBC, said: "We were very pleased to support our client on the completion of this notable transaction. In recent months we've seen both the UK Prime Minister and Chancellor, as well as the Mayor of London, championing trade with China and this is very much a 'London is open for business with China' deal. It demonstrates the strength of London as a global hub for finance and business and the primacy of English law in significant cross-border transactions of this nature."

SB plc is the third major acquisition on which White & Case has advised ICBC. In 2011 the Firm represented the Chinese banking giant on its landmark deal in the US to acquire a controlling stake in The Bank of East Asia (U.S.A.) National Association, the New York-based American subsidiary of Hong Kong's The Bank of East Asia Limited. In April this year, ICBC announced plans to acquire a 20 percent stake in SinoPac, one of Taiwan's biggest banks, for around US$670 million, with the Firm again representing ICBC.

Partner John Reiss, the Firm's Global Practice Leader for M&A, said: "From a White & Case perspective the Firm's truly global DNA runs through the SB plc transaction, underlining our regional strength in the US, EMEA and Asia. Lawyers in the UK, US, Belgium, Finland, South Africa, Hong Kong, Singapore and China combined seamlessly to the client's benefit with advice on key M&A, financial regulatory and merger issues that ensured the deal was brought to a successful conclusion."

The deal's completion is conditional on securing the necessary approvals from the relevant authorities, including the UK's Prudential Regulation Authority.

The White & Case team which advised ICBC was led by partners Francis Zou (New York) and Philip Broke (London) and also included partners Stuart Willey, Ingrid York, Stephen Ravenscroft, Nicholas Greenacre (all London), Ernie Patrikis (New York), Mark Powell (Brussels) and Richard Burke (Washington, DC) as well as local partner Anthony Vasey (Hong Kong), counsel Suzanne Innes-Stub (Helsinki) and associates James Pullen, Henrik Wikstrom, Susanne Leitterstorf, Malcolm Maclean, Sarah Taylor (all London) and Gloria Wang (Beijing).

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