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HSBC shares fall amid reports top shareholder Ping An may sell shares

Customers use automated teller machines (ATM) at an HSBC Holdings Plc bank branch at night in Hong Kong, China, on Saturday, Feb 16, 2019.

Anthony Kwan | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Shares of HSBC Holdings fell over 3% in Hong Kong on Friday after reports that its top shareholder Ping An Insurance might be looking to cut its stake in the British bank.

Despite the fall, HSBC’s share price is still at its highest since August 2018, trading at about 68 Hong Kong dollars per share.

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Citing people familiar with the matter, Bloomberg reported the Chinese insurer is looking at possibly reducing its stake in the bank further “as it seeks to reduce its $13.3 billion position in Europe’s largest lender.”

There are several options including “further share sales, similar to the $50 million sale it disclosed last week.”

Ping An sold HSBC shares worth 391.49 million Hong Kong dollars ($50.19 million) on May 7, cutting its stake from 8.01% to 7.98%.

The sale marked the first disposal of shares from Ping An since it backed a 2023 shareholder motion that sought to spin off its Asia business and establish fixed dividends. That motion was eventually defeated.

“A sovereign wealth fund or ultra-rich investor in the Middle East taking a sizable stake is another possibility,” Bloomberg said, citing unnamed sources.

HSBC spin-off proposal reflects a longer-term issue that's not likely to go away, says analyst

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