China's AgBank raises 10 billion dollars in Shanghai IPO
Shanghai (AFP) July 7, 2010
Agricultural Bank of China said on Wednesday it raised 68.5 billion yuan (10.1 billion US dollars) from the Shanghai portion of its initial public offering.
The amount included the overallotment option and put the bank on track to achieve the largest IPO on record by raising up to 22.1 billion dollars ahead of its dual listing in Hong Kong and Shanghai, the bank said in a statement to the Shanghai Stock Exchange.
AgBank, the last of China's four big banks to list, said it sold 25.57 billion shares in Shanghai, including the overallotment option, at 2.68 yuan a share, the top of a 2.52-2.68 yuan indicative price range.
Agbank, China's third-largest bank by assets, attracted 32.5 billion yuan from 27 domestic cornerstone investors including China's major insurance companies and a number of big state-run companies, Dow Jones Newswires reported.
The bank sold 10.23 billion shares, or 40 percent of its Shanghai portion to the cornerstone investors, the statement said.
AgBank's IPO looked set to overtake that of Industrial & Commercial Bank of China, which raised 21.9 billion dollars in an IPO in Shanghai and Hong Kong in 2006, as the world's biggest.
"If you need any evidence where the future of capital markets" lies, "it is the Agricultural Bank of China set to announce a record amount raised in an IPO," Royal Bank of Scotland said in a research note.
"European banks could only dream of raising this much capital at the moment."
AgBank has set a price in Hong Kong of 3.20 Hong Kong dollars (41 US cents) a share, just above the middle of the expected range, Dow Jones reported.
"It is on track to be the largest IPO in the world this year due to the weak market sentiment domestically and internationally," Shanghai Securities analyst Cai Junyi said.
"But whether it can overtake ICBC, we need to see how many shares will be issued in the end."
The bank in recent weeks scaled back its original 30-billion-dollar target due to market volatility tied to concerns about the global economy and questions about a balance sheet dented by bad loans.
But Shanghai-based Orient Securities analyst Jin Lin said the bank's exposure to inland China, which has economically lagged behind coastal regions, could also be seen as providing huge growth potential.
"AgBank has its advantage in rural China, which is different from the other major banks, making its shares attractive to some investors," Jin said.
AgBank had said the stock would be priced between 2.88 and 3.48 Hong Kong dollars a share.
The bank said it would publicly announce the price on Friday.
Agbank aims to float 15 percent of its enlarged share capital. But if it fully exercises its over-allotment options, it could float 16.87 percent, according to its prospectus.
AgBank will also offer Japanese investors a portion of its shares ahead of its listings in Shanghai and Hong Kong, Nomura Securities, one of the two lead underwriters in Japan, said Wednesday.
"The offering will start on Monday, targeting Japanese investors," said Nomura spokesman Kenji Yamashita.
The size of the Japan sale has yet to be decided, he said, adding that Daiwa Securities Capital Markets would be the other lead underwriter.
Citing an unnamed source, the Nikkei business daily reported that AgBank hoped to raise up to 50 billion yen (570 million dollars) in Japan, where many wealthy investors are also following the growth outlook of the Chinese market.
Francis Lun, general manager of Hong Kong's Fulbright Securities, said Beijing was determined to make a success of the state-owned bank's IPO.
"The central government is going all out to make sure (AgBank's) IPO is a success," he told AFP. "They're determined to make a good show. Otherwise they would lose face."
AgBank may ditch its long-held mandate to focus on lending to poor farmers after it becomes a public company, Lun predicted.
"I think they will junk that policy and become more like a commercial bank," he said.
The lender's stock is set to begin trading in Shanghai on July 15, and in Hong Kong a day later.
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