Nick Goodway: HSBC should take the money and run

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The Independent Online

Which is worse? Turning a quick buck or ending up with egg on your face?

It looks like HSBC could end up with both if its plan to sell its 15.6 per cent stake in China's second-largest insurer Ping An to Thailand's richest man ends up being blocked by the regulators.

HSBC sold the first 3.2 per cent tranche to Charoen Pokphand just over a month ago at HK$59 a share. It agreed to sell the rest at the same price, valuing the whole transaction at $9.4bn (£5.8bn).

Now the Chinese regulator and others are raising questions about how the deal is being funded, with stories that China Development Bank may pull out from providing a bridging loan.

HSBC insists that the deal is still on track and it has no desire to lose face with the Chinese, with whom it has a multitude of other trading links.

But thanks to the global new year stock market rally Ping An shares closed at HK$66.95 on Friday.

That is a 13.5 per cent improvement on the price agreed with Charoen Pokphand. Go on HSBC, take the money and run.