ICBC completes IPO
China's biggest bank, Industrial & Commercial Bank of China (ICBC, 中國工商銀行), yesterday priced its mammoth initial public offering at the top end of expectations owing to overwhelming investor demand, completing the biggest IPO in history. ICBC raised a total of US$19 billion in the first ever simultaneous stock sale in both Hong Kong and Shanghai. ICBC will officially announce its share pricing on Monday. The bank priced its Hong Kong offering at HK$3.07 a share, Dow Jones Newswires reported, citing an unidentified person familiar with the deal. At that price, the bank is raising US$13.9 billion from the Hong Kong offering. The Shanghai portion of the offering was priced at 3.11 yuan, Dow Jones said. The mainland portion will raise US$5.1 billion.
■ Natural Gas
Russia rethinking project
Russia's Industry and Energy Ministry is in talks with investors in Sakhalin-2 on changing the business model of the liquefied natural gas project after costs more than doubled to nearly US$22 billion, news agencies said. The comments by Deputy Minister Andrei Dementyev came at a specially convened discussion of the Shell-led project in Russia's upper house of parliament. The project has come under intense pressure from environmental regulators. Analysts say probes into the cost overrun are being used to pressure Shell to reconsider the terms of the original agreement to develop the fields and to secure access for a Russian state-run firm to the project.
Kia US to start operating
Kia Motors, South Korea's second-largest automaker, was to start work on its first US plant yesterday after a six-month delay over a bribery scandal, company officials said. "This will be our third overseas plant. The US plan will boost our production abroad and sales in the American market," spokesman Kim Jun-Myung said. Kia originally planned to start work on the plant in West Point, Georgia, in April. But the ribbon-cutting was delayed after Chung Mong-koo, chairman of parent firm Hyundai Motor, was arrested on charges of bribery.
■ Stock exchange
Court tells Grasso to pay up
A court on Thursday ordered the former head of the New York Stock Exchange, Richard Grasso, to return US$100 million in pension payments and other benefits to the bourse, state officials said. The order was made in a partial summary judgment issued by New York State Supreme Court judge Charles Ramos following a protracted legal battle between Grasso and New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer. Grasso resigned as the exchange's chairman in 2003, but made headlines with his generous US$187 million severance and compensation package. Spitzer then sued Grasso for the return of US$120 million of his package.
Nine jailed for piracy
Nine people convicted of selling illegally copied DVDs and other goods have been jailed for up to 13 years in China's biggest anti-piracy crackdown to date, the official Xinhua News Agency reported yesterday. The sentences were the longest reported since China stepped up penalties for product piracy in the middle of last year, imposing jail time in addition to fines. Four people were sentenced to 13 years in jail for producing and selling pirated publications in separate cases in Ningbo and Xiamen, Xinhua said.