Sep 1, 2017

Chinese Owner of Lenovo to Buy Major Stake in Luxembourg Bank

Legend Holdings, the Chinese company that owns the computer manufacturer Lenovo Group, said on Friday that it had agreed to buy a 90 percent stake in Banque Internationale à Luxembourg for 1.48 billion euros, or about $1.75 billion.


The deal was reached despite authorities in China cracking down on some overseas investments because of concerns about increasing levels of debt at some of the country's biggest conglomerates. Officials worry that loans accumulated by acquisitive Chinese companies could threaten the broader economy, and the heightened scrutiny has ended several major agreements.

A deal to sell Dick Clark Productions to Dalian Wanda Group, the Chinese real estate giant, collapsed in March, and the Chinese company has recently been selling off its theme parks and hotels.

Other companies, including Anbang Insurance Group, Fosun International, and the HNA Group, have also capitalized on cheap loans provided by state banks to snap up trophy assets. In what may be further evidence of the government crackdown, the chairman of Anbang, which paid $2 billion for the Waldorf Astoria in New York nearly three years ago, was detained by the Chinese police for undisclosed reasons in June.

Deals have not entirely dried up.

For example, Chinese businessman Gao Jisheng bought an 80 percent stake in Southampton, the British professional soccer club, last month. And a Chinese-led consortium bought A.C. Milan, the famed Italian soccer club, in April.

Legend, which is listed in Hong Kong, said that it would acquire the majority stake in Banque Internationale à Luxembourg from Precision Capital, an investment vehicle for members of Qatar's royal family. The Luxembourg government would continue to own the remaining 10 percent.

"This is an important and exciting strategic investment for Legend," Liu Chuanzhi, the Legend founder and chairman, said in a news release. "Financial services is one of Legend Holdings' key target industries."

Founded in 1856, Banque Internationale à Luxembourg is the oldest private bank in Luxembourg. It employs more than 2,000 people and, in addition to its home country, operates in Denmark, the Middle East, Sweden, and Switzerland.

The bank had revenue of €541 million in 2016 and €23 billion in total assets.

The deal is subject to regulatory approval, including by the European Central Bank.

Legend was founded in 1984 by Mr. Liu and others with financing from the Computing Institute of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. It started in the information technology sector and has expanded into a diversified investment company.

Its various interests include Lenovo, which bought I.B.M.'s personal computer business in 2005 and is China's largest computer vendor; CAR, China's largest rental car chain; and Lakala, a Chinese financial services company.

The New York Times