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Thu, May 25, 2006 - Page 10 News List

Bank of China said to raise US$9.7bn in initial offering


Bank of China Ltd (中國銀行) priced its Hong Kong initial public offering (IPO) near the top of the range, raising US$9.7 billion in the world's biggest stock offering since 2000, despite the recent turmoil in Asian stock markets.

China's second-largest bank by assets sold 25.57 billion shares for HK$2.95 (US$0.38) per share, a person familiar with the deal said, requesting anonymity because they weren't authorized to speak to the media. The bank had set a price range of HK$2.50-HK$3.00.

The Bank of China's IPO is the country's largest ever share offering, and the world's biggest since a US$10.6 billion IPO by AT&T Wireless Services Inc in April 2000.

The bank's shares will start trading on the Hong Kong stock exchange on June 1.

Bank of China's shares were highly sought after by retail investors, who were allocated 5 percent of the IPO. The retail portion of the deal was around 80 times oversubscribed, while the institutional tranche was 20 times covered, the person familiar with the deal said.

If the greenshoe is exercised and the bank decides to increase its share offering by 15 percent, the proceeds of the IPO will rise to US$11.2 billion.

The Bank of China is the second of China's "Big Four" state-owned banks to sell shares to international investors via the Hong Kong market. China Construction Bank (中國建設銀行) raised US$9.2 billion in October.

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