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Standard Chartered taps City for pounds 400m

STANDARD CHARTERED, the UK-based emerging markets bank, yesterday sealed the purchase of UBS's trade finance business for pounds 130m and tapped the City for pounds 400m.

The bank's shares initially fell 20.5p to 810p on the move, later rebounding to end the day down 7.5p at 823p.

About half of the funds raised through a placing of 49 million new shares with City institutions will be used to pay for the UBS deal.

The remainder is being set aside for a string of other Asian acquisitions in the pipeline. The new shares, which were priced at 784p, a discount of 4.3 per cent to Thursday's closing price, represent 5 per cent of the capital. The placing was handled by Schroders and Goldman Sachs. Brokers to the placing were Cazenove and Warburg Dillon Reed.

As well as talking to to Bank of America about acquiring its Taiwanese business, Standard Chartered is one of several potential buyers carrying out due diligence on Nakorthorn Bank in Thailand.

The bank is also seeking to move back into Nigeria.

The moves are in line with the strategy outlined by Rana Talwar, the bank's new chief executive, to use its strong balance sheet to take advantage of the current Asia crisis and pick up sound businesses which would not otherwise be available at reasonable prices.

The UBS business which Standard Chartered is buying has around pounds 1bn of total customer and bank assets and includes the dollar payment and clearing business for emerging markets trade based in the US.

Mr Talwar said yesterday: "Financing trade in emerging markets is a core activity and long established strength of Standard Chartered and we have today acquired a high-quality operation which strengthens our network position within emerging markets, particularly in Latin America and Asia. It also builds market share in our core trade finance and cash management businesses."

UBS decided late last year to put the trade finance business up for sale.