Chinese bank to raise $2.7b

Shanghai, January 22:

Chinese provincial lender the Industrial Bank said Monday it has set a price range for its planned share listing that could bring in some 21 billion yuan ($2.72 billion).

The bank, based in southeast China’s Fujian province, will offer 1.33 billion shares at 15.00-15.98 yuan each, it said in a prospectus filed to the Shanghai stock exchange. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Bank, itself controlled by global banking giant HSBC, owns a 15.98 per cent stake in the lender.

The price range for the Initial Public Offering (IPO) translates into a price-earnings-ratio of between 30.5 and 32.5 times its 2005 earnings. The institutional investor subscription period is scheduled for January 22-23, while the retail sale is set for January 23.

No date was officially given for Industrial Bank’s trading debut but state newspaper the Oriental Morning Post said it would take place on February 5. The Industrial Bank, a medium-sized provincial group will sell 300 million A-shares to strategic partners and another 330.3 million shares to institutional investors.

The remainder will be sold online to retail investors, the company said. Li Renjie, president of bank said he was also mulling an IPO in Hong Kong once the Shanghai float was completed.

“We have made some preparations for an H-share (Hong Kong-share) offering,” Li, said in live online comments promoting the Shanghai sale.

“But we do not have such an arrangement at the moment and the details are subject to a shareholder meeting,” he added. Such a move would add to a growing list of Chinese banks that have sought listings both at home and abroad.

Regulators have pushed for the nation’s lenders to reform themselves and become joint stock holding companies, although the state still retains a controlling interest. Over the past two years, many Chinese banks have sold shares to foreign groups as a way of improving their usually debt-laden balance sheets while gaining access to improved management and technology assets.

Industrial Bank is no exception, with Hang Seng Bank taking a stake in the group for 1.6 billion Hong Kong dollars ($205 million) in 2004. Current minority stakeholders in Industrial Bank are Singapore’s Tetrad Ventures, an investment arm of government-owned GIC Special Investments, with 5.0 per cent, and the World Bank’s private investment arm, the International Finance Corp., with 4.0 per cent.

Industrial Bank posted a net profit of 1.75 billion yuan in the first half of 2006, with total assets of 532.2 billion yuan.