In a widely expected move, American Express (AmEx) sold 638 million shares and German insurer Allianz sold 3.216 billion shares of Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) as the lock-up periods on their holdings expired, Bloomberg reported. Allianz sold half of its stake in the sale, worth a combined US$1.9 billion. While specific pricing details were not released, Bloomberg quoted sources close to the transactions as saying the shares were sold for HK$3.86 (US$0.49) each, a 4% discount from ICBC’s closing price on Monday. Analysts said that the speed with which the sales were closed indicates healthy demand for Chinese banking shares. AmEx and Allianz are the latest in a series of foreign financial institutions, including Royal Bank of Scotland, Bank of America and UBS, to sell of holdings in Chinese banks. Separately, ICBC announced its first-quarter profit rose 6% year-on-year to US$5.1 billion, despite a 12.9% drop in interest income.
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