UBS weighs Credit Suisse China stake swap with Beijing government

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UBS is in talks to acquire full ownership of its China platform by swapping its holding in Credit Suisse’s onshore securities venture with a Beijing government investment fund, Bloomberg News reported on Monday.

UBS is proposing to buy the remaining 33% stake in UBS Securities it does not already own from Beijing State-Owned Assets Management, and sell up to its entire 51% position in Credit Suisse Securities (China) in return, the report said, citing people familiar with the matter.

UBS has been seeking around 2 billion yuan ($276.6 million) for Credit Suisse’s China unit, including the stake held by its local partner, according to the report.

Beijing State-Owned Assets Management could not be immediately reached for comment, and UBS did not immediately respond to Reuters’ request for comment.

The latest proposal adds a new twist to the months-long bidding process of Credit Suisse’s investment bank in China.

While UBS has attempted to increase its ownership in UBS Securities unit to 100%, the Beijing government has been so far reluctant to sell due its growth and earnings prospect, the report added.

The bank is now engaging in talks with its state-owned shareholder to swap shares while holding advanced talks to sell Credit Suisse Securities to Citadel Securities, it said.

UBS’ takeover of Credit Suisse, the biggest bank merger since the 2008 global financial crisis, was hastily arranged last year by Swiss authorities to avert Credit Suisse’s collapse.

The merger resulted in UBS owning two majority-owned securities firms in China, where a company is only permitted to operate one.