* Deal awaiting regulatory approval (Adds quotes, background)
By Michael Wei and Doug Young
BEIJING, March 4 (Reuters) - Morgan Stanley (MS.N) has found buyers for its stake in Chinese investment bank China International Capital Corp, CICC Chairman Li Jiange said on Thursday.
The firms have reached a consensus regarding the stake sale and the deal was awaiting regulatory approval, Li said.
“The deal has been proceeding very smoothly and has developed into a new stage,” Li said, making his comments on the sidelines of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference in Beijing.
“The next step for us is to apply for approval from the regulatory body,” he said.
He declined to identify the buyers or the portion each investor has agreed to buy.
Sources previously told Reuters that private equity firms KKR [KKR.UL] and TPG [TPG.UL] were in late stage talks to buy Morgan Stanley’s 34.3 percent stake in CICC for more than $1 billion. [ID:nN22143212]
Morgan Stanley has been exploring a sale of its stake in CICC, one of China’s leading investment banks, for more than two years. The bank paid just $37 million for its piece of CICC when the Chinese bank was founded more than a decade ago. A sale would allow the New York bank to pursue other joint ventures.
Market players have estimated the deal could be worth up to $1.5 billion, given CICC’s strong business performance in 2009, potentially giving Morgan Stanley its biggest investment return in China’s financial sector.
Li did not provide other details about the deal. (Editing by Ken Wills and Muralikumar Anantharaman)