Legend Holdings is buying a 90 per cent stake in Banque Internationale a Luxembourg from its Qatari owners, Precision Capital, in a transaction bankers say is valued at over $1bn.

The acquisition is the largest of takeover of a European deposit-taking institution by a Chinese company to date. Legend first made its name in 2005 when it bought IMB’s PC unit.

In purchasing the European bank, the investment group is taking advantage of a vacuum that has been left as other Chinese acquirers are barred from further purchases at Beijing’s behest. As a well-connected, state-backed group, it is likely to get Beijing’s official support for the purchase.

The seller is a Qatar investment fund that represents members of the royal family and the powerful former prime minister of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani. The Grand Duchy of Luxembourg will retain its current 10 per cent holding in the bank which has assets of €23bn.

The current management of BIL will remain in place, both sides said in announcing the sale.

Legend’s purchase of the bank differs from previous acquisitions of European financial institutions in that those deals involved providing rescue finance to troubled organizations.

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