(MENAFN - AFP) Banking giant HSBC said Monday it was in talks to sell its stake in China's Ping An Insurance Group, the country's second-largest life insurer by premiums.
The British-based but Asia-focused lender said in a statement it was "in discussions which may or may not lead" to the sale of its 15.57 percent stake, which the bank bought in 2002 before Ping An's listing in Hong Kong.
HSBC is the single-biggest shareholder in Ping An, which has a market capitalisation of HK186 billion (24 billion).
It did not reveal the party it was in talks with but Hong Kong Economic Journal newspaper cited sources saying Thai businessman Dhanin Chearavanont, owner of the Charoen Pokphand group, might be interested.
The Hong Kong-listed shares of Ping An fell 2.69 percent to HK58.0 at the lunch break. The benchmark Hang Seng Index was 0.65 percent higher.
HSBC has been selling non-core assets as part of a broad restructuring plan designed to boost profitability.
The London-listed bank is also setting aside hundreds of millions of dollars as provision for fines related to possible criminal charges over money laundering allegations in the United States.
Net profits tumbled by more than half to 2.498 billion in the three months to September, compared with a year earlier.