HSBC (HBC.NYSE, HSBA.LON, 0005.HKG) is looking to unload its roughly US$9 billion stake in Chinese insurer Ping An Insurance (2318.HKG, 601318.SH) in a bid to boost the bank’s profitability, Bloomberg reported. In a statement on Monday, HSBC said it “is in discussions which may or may not lead to the sale of shares,” as it looks to boost returns by selling assets to focus on growing markets where the bank has a larger market share. The bank did not specify potential buyers for its roughly 15.6% stake in the insurer. The London-based lenders have already agreed to sell insurance subsidiaries in Hong Kong, Singapore and Mexico for US$494 million, boosting pre-tax profits 4.2%, Goldman Sachs (GS.NYSE) analysts said. CEO Stuart Gulliver has said the company aims to reduce costs by up to US$3.5 billion by next year. Ping An is China’s second-largest insurer.