StanChart 'ousts head of private equity business'

LONDON • Standard Chartered dismissed the head of its private equity business and is weighing plans to shutter the unit over the next two years, according to people familiar with the matter.

The lender this week ousted Mr Joseph Stevens, the head of StanChart Private Equity (SCPE), and Mr Bert Kwan, who helped run the business in South-east Asia, said the people, who requested anonymity as the matter has not been made public.

Chief executive officer Bill Winters, who had discussed selling the business to the unit's managers, now favours winding it down after disagreements on price, the people said.

Mr Shaun Gamble, a spokesman for the London-based bank, declined to comment beyond a September statement that StanChart is "looking at non-core businesses, or those that do not sit within our tightened risk tolerance".

Mr Winters is overhauling risk- taking at a lender that has written down billions of dollars of loans and investments over the past two years as commodity prices crashed. The division that houses SCPE lost US$197 million (S$273 million) for the nine months through September, while an energy investment is embroiled in a US bribery probe.

CONSTANT REVIEW

We are consistently looking at all of our businesses, both in terms of their outright performance but also how they fit with our portfolio - and in the context of evolving regulatory capital rules and our risk tolerances.

MR BILL WINTERS, chief executive of StanChart, speaking on a call with reporters on Tuesday. He declined to comment specifically on the discussions involving the private equity unit.

"We are consistently looking at all of our businesses, both in terms of their outright performance but also how they fit with our portfolio - and in the context of evolving regulatory capital rules and our risk tolerances," Mr Winters said on Tuesday, declining to comment specifically on the discussions involving the private equity unit.

SCPE manages about US$5 billion, including the bank's own funds and money from external investors including Goldman Sachs Group. The unit owns stakes in about 80 companies across Asia, Africa and the Middle East.

It was making new investments as recently as July, when it bought a "significant stake" in Phoon Huat, the Singapore company that has been selling baking ingredients since 1947.

BLOOMBERG

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 05, 2016, with the headline 'StanChart 'ousts head of private equity business''. Print Edition | Subscribe