HSBC Holdings PLC is in negotiations to buy a controlling stake in Old Mutual PLC's Nedbank Group Ltd. valued at about $7 billion to benefit from growing business ties between Asia and Africa.

HSBC, Europe's largest bank, may acquire as much as 70% of the Johannesburg bank, Old Mutual said Monday. HSBC and Old Mutual, which is based in London, are in exclusive talks and have eight weeks to reach an agreement for Nedbank, which has a market value of 71.5 billion rand ($9.8 billion).

HSBC said last month that it was looking to expand in Africa as more companies in Asia trade with the continent. The International Monetary Fund forecast 5% economic growth for Africa this year, five times the pace of the European Union, amid demand for the continent's natural resources and an expansion of infrastructure.

Old Mutual, Africa's biggest insurer, wants to build its South African business while concentrating on insurance and paying down debt of as much as 1.5 billion pounds ($2.33 billion).

Old Mutual owns about 52% of Nedbank.

Nedbank, South Africa's No. 4 bank by market value, would be HSBC's first major takeover since the start of the global financial crisis. Nedbank, which traces its origins to the 1830s, provides banking services primarily to companies.

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