HSBC considers sale of its stake in Vietnamese insurance group Bao Viet

British banking and financial services group HSBC Holdings plc (LON:HSBA) said on Thursday it was reviewing strategic options for its 18% interest in Vietnamese insurer Bao Viet Holdings including a potential sale, confirming media speculation that it could be seeking buyers for the stake.

According to a Reuters report from July citing sources, HSBC was discussing a potential deal worth some USD400m (EUR324m) for its Bao Viet stake with Sumitomo Life Insurance Company.

One of the sources informed on the matter, told the news agency that although the stake’s market value is only USD250m, the British bank targets a high premium for it, because of Bao Viet’s good market position and the possiblity for the buyer to increase its ownership in it in the future.

Other interested parties had a look at Bao Viet, the sources also said, without naming any.

For its part, HSBC, which paid a total USD360m to build the 18% in Bao Viet in 2007 and 2009, said it would give details on the strategic review for the stake when appropriate.

The interest is held by HSBC Insurance (Asia Pacific) Holdings Limited, HSBC said.
The UK bank has already shed 28 businesses, reduced 15,000 jobs and released risk-weighted assets worth USD55bn under a three-year recovery plan.

In March 2011, Bao Viet had over 5,200 employees, more than 30,000 consultants and some 130 branches, according to its website.

For more on HSBC’s asset disposals, click here.

UK insurance firm Charles Taylor enters Saudi Arabia with Nilaco deal

British insurance services provider Charles Taylor plc (LON:CTR) on Thursday said it had agreed to buy 60% in Saudi Arabia’s Noble Inspection and Loss Adjustment Company (Nilaco), in a move to take its loss adjusting office network into regions with demand from local and global insurance markets.

Under the deal terms, Charles Taylor will provide an initial cash price of USD163,000 (EUR132,000) and a further cash consideration of USD68,000, with the vendor to also subscribe for USD43,000 worth of Charles Taylor shares at completion.

The British buyer, which see substantial growth opportunities in the Middle East, secured with this deal a presence and a full adjusting license in Saudi Arabia, while adding to its existing multi-line loss adjusting business in Dubai and Doha, CEO David Marock said in a comment.

A licensed loss adjusting company, Nilaco brings a presence in Riyadh and Jeddah to Charles Taylor Adjusting’s network.

Completion is subject to conditions, including clearances from some regulators and government authorities, the buyer said.

London-based Charles Taylor, offering services to insurance clients since 1885, currently runs 47 offices in 23 countries in the UK, the Americas, Asia Pacific, Europe and the Middle East. The company, whose services cover the entire spectrum of the insurance market, operates via Management, Adjusting and Insurance Support Services divisions employing a total of 900 staff.

Abraxas, Blue Stone Oil & Gas to break-up Blue Eagle JV

Texas-based oil and natural gas exploration and production company Abraxas Petroleum Corp (NASDAQ:AXAS) said it had signed a letter of intent (LoI) to break-up its Blue Eagle Energy LLC joint venture with Blue Stone Oil & Gas LLC after the partners failed to dispose of the entity earlier this year.

Blue Eagle Energy was formed in 2010 to develop the Eagle Ford Shale play in South Texas. Abraxas explained that the sale of the JV had turned unsuccessful as the price of oil fell during negotiations and the at-first-acceptable bids were reduced too much.

Abraxas holds some 34.7% interest Blue Eagle Energy. Now the partners will separate the assets, so Abraxas will include its portion in its bank borrowing base, resulting in increased liquidity. The company will also cut the confusion coming out of joint venture accounting and be able to count in its operating metrics production, reserves and cash flow, it said.

Under the terms of the LoI, Abraxas will retain a 100% stake in the Eagleford and shallower rights in Jourdanton, Atascosa County; 100% in Yoakum, DeWitt County; 25% in WyCross, McMullen County; and a 25% interest in the Nordheim, DeWitt County assets. The company calculates that the producing wells it will take have a capacity of 205 barrels of oil equivalent per day. The proven reserves to go to Abraxas are estimated at around 2.4m barrels of oil equivalent, while the probable reserves are 3.7m barrels of oil equivalent. The company will also get $7m (€5.7) in cash plus its share of the joint venture’s working capital.

Furthermore, Abraxas said it had wrapped up a $7.2m deal to take a partner’s share in jointly owned properties in Ward County, West Texas. The transaction amount excludes closing adjustments. That acquisition expands the company’s portfolio by 240 barrels of oil equivalent production per day and some 1.2 million barrels of oil equivalent of proved developed producing reserves. Natural gas accounts for 95% of the acquired assets.

Glentel to sell tower business to SBA Communications

Canadian telecommunications carrier and mobile phone retailer Glentel Inc (TSE:GLN) said it would sell its tower operations to US wireless communication towers operator SBA Communications Corp (NASDAQ:SBAC) for as much as CAD12m ($12.1m/€9.8m).

Glentel is selling its non-core tower business and assets as it wants to focus on core initiatives including digital migration and the expansion of its digital networks, president and CEO Tom Skidmore said. The deal would also eliminate risk, maintenance and capital costs for the Canadian company, allowing it to provide network solutions to clients across the country.
Glentel’s licensed frequency portfolio will not be affected by the sale, the executive added.

For SBA, this deal aligns with a strategy to build itself as the largest provider of communications sites in Canada, vice president of SBA Canada, Edward Hachey, said in a comment. The addition of Glentel’s towers would allow the buyer to meet the needs of its local customers for increased coverage and network quality across the country, Hachey explained.

Completion is expected by the end of this year, with the final price to be determined based on the tower site revenue yield at closing, the vendor said.

The Canadian company, set up in 1963, runs more than 545 corporate stores at over 330 locations in Canada, Costco Wholesale stores and business centres as well as 210 retail sites in the US