DBS, Stanchart, HSBC submit first-round bids for SocGen's Asian private bank: sources

A visitor enters the Societe Generale SA headquarters in Paris, France, on Wednesday, Feb 16, 2011. Standard Chartered, DBS Group Holdings and HSBC have submitted first round bids for Societe Generale's Asian private bank valued at US$600 million (S$
A visitor enters the Societe Generale SA headquarters in Paris, France, on Wednesday, Feb 16, 2011. Standard Chartered, DBS Group Holdings and HSBC have submitted first round bids for Societe Generale's Asian private bank valued at US$600 million (S$750 million), people involved in the sale told Reuters. -- PHOTO : BLOOMBERG NEWS

SINGAPORE/HONG KONG (Reuters) - Standard Chartered, DBS Group Holdings and HSBC have submitted first round bids for Societe Generale's Asian private bank valued at US$600 million (S$750 million), people involved in the sale told Reuters.

SocGen, France's second-largest bank by market capitalisation, is selling the unit as part of wider restructuring to cut costs and boost profits, Reuters previously reported. Its 15-year foothold in Asia makes it an attractive buy, sources said.

Credit Suisse and at least one US financial institution are among 10 firms placing preliminary bids for the unit that manages about US$13 billion worth of assets, said the people, who asked not to be named because the details are not public.

SocGen is the third major global financial institution to seek the sale of its Asian wealth arm in the last five years after Bank of America and ING Groep. Rapid growth in the lower end of the wealth market - serving people with at least US$1 million to invest - favours private banks with wider networks, pressuring smaller players who tend to target only the very rich.

SocGen's private banking unit is small compared with those of larger competitors in Asia's wealth management market such as Citigroup and UBS, which each manage US$200 billion in assets.

Some bids will not be more than US$300 million, the people said, showing the gap in price sought by seller and suitors.

The French bank is restructuring its asset-gathering operations after recently combining them with its corporate and investment bank under Head of Corporate and Investment Banking Didier Valet.

Earlier this year, it sold its Japanese private bank to Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp for an undisclosed sum.

JPMorgan is advising SocGen, the people said.

Spokespeople for SocGen and JPMorgan declined to comment.

Officials at DBS, Credit Suisse, HSBC and Standard Chartered also declined to comment.