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Bank of East Asia caves to pressure for review of operations

A person familiar with the matter said everything was "on the table," including the bank's mainland China and Hong Kong operations, and a capital infusion into the two businesses.

"By working with Goldman Sachs, we've invited potential partners and counterparties to engage with the bank," the person, who requested anonymity, said. "It's inviting a conversation with people in any industry as a sort of advertising to the world that there's going to be serious consideration" for any transaction.

The person said preliminary discussions have led to the belief that the market looks at Bank of East Asia's mainland China business, which includes branches and licenses, as "attractive." A transaction could lead to control of the business or bring in partners who have the operational expertise.

The management of Bank of East Asia is expected to resist offering a full sale of the bank and will try to hawk some ancillary businesses. It has a securities joint venture in China, and offers insurance services and margin financing in Hong Kong, said a Hong Kong-based analyst who tracks the company.