Novo Banco sells investment unit to China’s Haitong for 400 mn euros
Novo Banco on Monday sold its investment bank Banco Espirito Santo de Investimento (BESI) to the Chinese finance group Haitong for 400 million euros ($464 million), the Portuguese bank said.
Novo Banco, which arose from the ashes of the Banco Espirito Santo (BES) in August, said the deal still needed approval by the Portuguese central bank, the European Commission and competition authorities.
The sale of BESI is the latest stage in the dismantling of the family-controlled Espirito Santo group in the wake of revelations in May of accounting irregularities in one of its holding companies.
Portugal launched Novo Banco as part of a 4.9-billion-euro bailout of BES aimed at averting a national disaster and a fresh eurozone crisis.
Novo Banco, which holds the healthy assets of BES, was itself put up for sale last week, with tenders closing at the end of the year.
The sale is aimed at raising funds to pay back 3.9 billion euros to the Portuguese government — the part of the bailout that was disbursed in the form of a loan.
BESI, directed by Jose Maria Ricciardi, the cousin of former BES boss Ricardo Salgado, operates in 16 European countries as well as in the Americas, Africa and Asia.
Its net profit was 3.0 million euros in the first half of the year.
Haitong International, listed on the Hong Kong stock market, has 4.6 million private customers and 12,000 institutional clients in nearly 30 Chinese provinces.
Novo Banco shed its insurance arm Tranquilidade, selling it to Apollo of the United States, while its travel subsidiary Espirito Santo Viagens was sold to Switzerland’s Springwater and its health unit Espirito Santo Saude was snapped up by Fosun of China following a takeover battle in October.
Fosun, as well as Spanish banks Caixa and Santander, have expressed interest in acquiring Novo Banco.