UPDATE 1-Thai lender Thanachart had talks on buying ING's TMB Bank stake-source

Thu Feb 6, 2014 12:25am EST
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* ING bought the stake in 2007

* Thai political unrest has slowed down negotiations

* TMB shares up 1.8 pct

By Denny Thomas

HONG KONG, Feb 6 (Reuters) - Thai lender Thanachart Bank has held discussions with ING Groep about buying the Dutch financial services company's 31 percent stake in TMB Bank Pcl , although the talks are no longer continuing, a person familiar with the matter said.

The talks come after ING failed to interest foreign banks in its TMB stake last year. A sale to a domestic lender is likely to meet fewer regulatory obstacles in a country where foreign ownership above 49 percent requires government approval, people familiar with the process have said.

ING's 31 percent holding in Thailand's seventh-largest lender is valued at about $942 million based on Wednesday's closing price. The European firm has been exiting its non-core businesses as part of a wider asset sale programme to pay down the state aid it received during the global financial crisis.

Thanachart Bank, which is 49 percent owned by Canada's Bank of Nova Scotia, has been interested in acquiring the stake for some time but Thailand's political stalemate has slowed negotiations, the person added.

Thai protesters have been trying to topple Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra since November, prompting the government to announce a state of emergency ahead of Sunday's vote that was boycotted by the main opposition party.   Continued...