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Wed, Mar 13, 2002 - Page 21 News List

China to offer dam shares for project in Three Gorges

AFP , BEIJING

China plans to offer shares in the vast and controversial Three Gorges dam project, with a domestic listing next year possibly followed by issues in Hong Kong and other overseas markets, an official said Tuesday.

The initial offer on Shanghai's yuan-denominated A-share market is scheduled for next year, said Yuan Lei of the China Yangtze Three Gorges Project Development Corp.

Yuan's company is constructing what will eventually become the world's largest hydroelectric project in central China, at a total cost exceeding US$20 billion.

"We will turn ourselves into a joint stock company as soon as we produce electricity, around the end of the year, and we plan to offer shares on the Shanghai stock market the next year," said Yuan, an official company spokesman.

The initial offering will raise around 4 billion yuan to 5 billion yuan (US$480 million to US$600 million), he said.

"Other offerings could also be made on the stock market in Hong Kong or abroad as necessary but nothing has been decided yet," he said.

Yuan said it was not yet known which underwriters might be involved, but confirmed some firms had undertaken preliminary assessment work. The London-based Financial Times said yesterday that Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley, Nomura and Goldman Sachs are all in contention for the job. Yuan also said that companies, including Hong Kong's CLP China Power and US energy firm Mirant, could be sold a total of 10 percent of the initial offering as strategic investors.

The Three Gorges dam, designed to tap the vast power of the Yangtze River, is one of the largest and most expensive construction projects ever undertaken.

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