ICBC gets approval for Argentine Standard Bank takeover: source

BUENOS AIRES Sun Nov 11, 2012 4:54am IST

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BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) - Argentina has given approval for the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (1398.HK) to take control of the local operations of South Africa's Standard Bank (SBKJ.J) following a $600 million deal last year, an official source said on Saturday.

ICBC, the world's biggest bank by market value, will take 80 percent of commercial lender Standard Bank Argentina and its two affiliates, asset manager Standard Investments and Inversora Diagnol, a commercial service provider.

Johannesburg-based Standard Bank will reduce its stake in all three firms to 20 percent.

The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the operation had been given the go-ahead by Argentina's central bank.

ICBC will be the first Chinese lender to enter Latin America's third-largest economy, where President Cristina Fernandez ordered banks in July to lend nearly 15 billion pesos (about $3.1 billion) by year's end to finance investment in production.

When the deal was announced in August 2011, Fernandez asked the bank to present an investment plan to her government.

(Reporting by Maximiliano Rizzi; Writing by Helen Popper; Editing by Todd Eastham)

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