Standard Chartered Peter Sands
Peter Sands, chief executive of Standard CharteredReuters

Standard Chartered is in advanced talks to sell its Hong Kong consumer credit unit to finance firm Pepper Australia Pty Ltd, according to media reports.

The sale of the PrimeCredit Ltd business could fetch between $500m (€389m, £306m) and $700m to the London-based bank, Reuters reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

The news agency added that Sydney-based Pepper is awaiting approval from Hong Kong's banking regulator for the deal.

Pepper and Hong Kong-based Chow Tai Fook Enterprises were the top two contenders for PrimeCredit, according to the sources.

The two companies may reach an agreement on a deal in the next few weeks, a source told Bloomberg.

Standard Chartered CEO Peter Sands in August labelled the business unit "non-strategic" in a post-earnings briefing.

The sale comes as Sands is facing immense investor pressure to put the bank's troubled Asian operations on the right track.

The bank earlier reported a 20% decline in profit primarily due to losses in Korea, and its second-largest shareholder, Aberdeen Asset Management, criticised the management in August.

In order to boost its profitability, Standard Chartered has been cutting its businesses involved in high-risk, unsecured lending, and focusing more on global corporate banking and high net worth clients.

Earlier in 2014, the bank sold two businesses in South Korea to Japanese lender J Trust for $148m. It is also trying to sell its Swiss private bank as it focuses more on Asia, Africa and the Middle East.

Pepper, which lends to borrowers who do not meet traditional lending criteria, has businesses in the UK and Australia.

If it secures the deal, Pepper is likely to run the business with the help of Bank of East Asia Ltd, by transferring PrimeCredit's mortgage book to the Hong Kong bank, Reuters' sources had said in July.