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Trading halt fans tie-up theory

PING An Insurance (Group) Co and Shenzhen Development Bank halted trading yesterday, fanning market talk that they were discussing a potential tie-up.

The Shenzhen-listed bank said yesterday that it will make an announcement before Saturday and then resume trading as it is planning an "important issue."

Ping An said in a statement that it halted trading in Hong Kong and Shanghai as it will announce a possible transaction with "price-sensitive issues."

There has been rising market speculation that the Shenzhen bank is discussing a fundraising plan and is expected to file an application with the Shenzhen Stock Exchange while Ping An, based in Shenzhen in Guangdong Province, is likely to buy shares of the lender.

Both firms didn't comment yesterday.

The Shenzhen bank has been seeking new investors as United States private equity firm TPG Capital, the biggest shareholder, plans to sell its 17 percent stake as the shares' lock-up period is scheduled to expire next year.

Ping An, the country's second-biggest insurer, plans to boost its banking business as it aims to build itself into a diversified financial giant covering insurance, banking and asset management.

Ping An Bank in March renamed itself from Shenzhen Ping An Bank to signal its nationwide expansion ambition.


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