November 4, 2011 / 4:59 AM / 7 years ago

Exclusive: MF Global Asia operations get 30-40 bids: HK

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - MF Global MFGLQ.PK’s operations in Asia and Australia have received nearly 40 credible offers and a sale is expected to be agreed by the end of the weekend, the provisional liquidator for the brokerage’s Hong Kong unit told Reuters on Friday.

MF Global filed for bankruptcy in the United States on Monday after risky bets on debt from troubled euro zone nations scared away clients and investors.

“We’ve got 30 to 40 parties that have contacted us, we’re proceeding on a sale process already,” said Patrick Cowley, a principal for KPMG in Hong Kong.

“That sale process is a process that will be materially advanced soon — so hopefully bids in and the outcome determined by the end of the weekend,” he added.

Cowley said he was working with the brokerage’s other administrators in Australia and Singapore to try and sell the Asia-Pacific operations as a single entity.

“It is an integrated platform and so we start from the belief that the most value will be to a party looking to take on Australia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan, and that’s the response we are getting from interested parties?,” he said.

Interested parties for the brokerage in Asia include major financial institutions, MF Global’s previous competitors and other regional institutions looking to either get a foothold in the Asian market or expand their options and derivatives franchises, said Cowley.

He refrained from giving any indication on what kind of price the liquidators were hoping to achieve for the Asian business, but said he and his fellow administrators were pushing for a high valuation.

“There are a lot of people on my side of the table that are very incentivized to attain the maximum price for what was a very strong franchise,?” Cowley said.

He added that if terms were agreed on a sale over the weekend, contracts would probably be signed early next week and the transaction completed a couple of weeks afterwards.

U.S. regulators are hunting for around $600 million in missing customer money following the failure of MF Global, but Cowley said so far there was no indication of any unaccounted for client funds in Asia.

“At this stage we are not aware here in Hong Kong or elsewhere in the region that there is anything amiss with client funds,” he said.

The brokerage’s administrators said earlier this week that they were being hampered in their efforts to retrieve client money from some overseas exchanges but Cowley said that situation is now improving.

“After the initial hiatus certain exchanges have opened up to allow MF Global clients to close-out or transfer their positions which represents progress,” said Cowley.

Editing by Alex Richardson

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