Global lender HSBC is in advanced talks to buy assets of two troubled financial groups-ING and RBS in Asia in a move to expand its base in the region, says a media report.

“HSBC is in advanced talks to buy separate Asian assets being sold by two troubled western financial groups, in a further sign of its rising commitment to expand in the region,” the British daily Financial Times said.

The bank, which is to relocate its chief executive from London to Hong Kong, is a front-runner to acquire the Asian private banking operations being divested by ING, the Dutch lender.

HSBC has also re-emerged as a serious contender for the Asian retail and commercial assets being sold by Royal Bank of Scotland, the FT said attributing to people familiar with the matter.

Besides HSBC and OCBC, the Singapore bank has also emerged among the strong contenders to buy the ING assets, which could fetch up to $1.5 billion, with a deal expected to be sealed later this month, it added.

Standard Chartered had been in exclusive talks since August to acquire the RBS operations in China, India and Malaysia but the sides failed to agree on a price and discussions have been re—opened with other potential buyers.

The assets are expected to fetch about $350 million.

“Standard Chartered is not out of it completely but HSBC is now in the best position to acquire the RBS assets,” the report said quoting one person familiar with the matter.

ING was forced to seek government support last year due to concerns over the quality of US mortgage-backed securities that it holds, which have since been placed under a state guarantee by the Dutch government in addition to the capital injection. RBS was rescued last year by the UK government, which holds a 72 per cent stake.

On Wednesday, ING Group said it would sell its Swiss private banking business to Switzerland-based Julius Baer for 344 million euros.

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