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East Asia bank chief spurns mainland offers

BANK of East Asia Ltd. Chairman David Li said he has turned down Chinese mainland banks which expressed interest in buying part of the 90-year-old lender, whose stock has lost 64 percent in the past year.

"We've got approaches but we've turned them down," Li said in an interview in Hong Kong yesterday, responding to a question about whether he's in talks with Chinese mainland banks. "Any price wouldn't be right in this market, plus we want to stay independent with a broad shareholder base." Li declined to identify any companies and said no talks are currently under way, according to Bloomberg News.

Bank of East Asia shares are little changed this year, making it the best performer on the 11-company Hang Seng Finance Index. The Industrial and Commercial Bank of China Ltd, the world's largest lender by market value, is among banks that have said they'd prefer investing in East Asia.

China Merchants Bank Co bought Hong Kong's Wing Lung Bank Ltd in September for US$4.7 billion.


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