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Allianz, Amex retain stakes in ICBC

ALLIANZ SE and American Express Co decided to keep their stakes in Industrial & Commercial Bank of China after a lockup period expired today.

The agreements to retain the stakes, with a combined value of about US$3.1 billion, indicates key shareholders are optimistic about the outlook of the world's biggest bank by market value.

"We have no current plans to sell its shares," the New York-based American Express said. "We will reevaluate its shareholding from time to time depending on market conditions."

Munich-based Allianz said it regards ICBC as a strategic partner and "in case of a potential disposal in the future, Allianz will explore all potential methods of sale that would maximize value and minimize market impact, with a preference for a private sale to investors."

Allianz has 3.22 billion Hong Kong-traded ICBC shares which are valued at HK$19.9 billion (US$2.57 billion), while American Express owns 638 million shares worth HK$3.95 billion.

"It indicates the performance of ICBC has convinced investors and they may think the bank still has potential to grow even stronger," said Shen Minhua, an analyst at Haitong Securities Co.

ICBC earned 66.42 billion yuan (US$9.7 billion) in the first half, up from 64.53 billion yuan in the same period last year. It has more than 16,000 outlets nationwide, 112 branches overseas, and 190 million individual customers.


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