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Goldman sells part of ICBC holding

GOLDMAN Sachs has raised more than US$1.9 billion after selling part of its stake in the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China as the United States investment firm seeks to repay government bailout funds.

Goldman unloaded more than 3.3 billion Hong Kong-listed shares in ICBC, China's biggest lender, at HK$4.88 (63 US cents) each, according to a sales sheet reviewed yesterday by The Associated Press.

That represents about 3.7 percent of ICBC's Hong Kong shares and 0.9 percent of its total outstanding shares.

It's also about a fifth of Goldman's some 4.9 percent holding in ICBC. The remaining 80 percent of its stake is locked up until at least April next year under an agreement between Goldman and ICBC earlier this year.

The Wall Street firm was among the first financial institutions to receive money from the US Treasury Department late last year under a government stock purchase program designed to help banks survive the credit crisis and improve lending.

But banks have chafed against rules on the bailout money, including limits on executive compensation. Goldman, like other bailout recipients, has applied to repay the money. Goldman's portion totaled US$10 billion.

A Goldman spokesperson in Hong Kong declined to comment.

ICBC shares closed down 4.1 percent at HK$4.9 in Hong Kong yesterday.


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