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HK's IPO market taking off

2013-12-12 12:40 China Daily Web Editor: Wang Fan

Hong Kong's IPO market is seeing a revival, as new deals are flooding the market after the mainland's plan to overhaul the economy was announced.

Bad-debt manager China Cinda Asset Management Co Ltd will soon lose its title as Hong Kong's biggest IPO this year, which it grabbed days ago, to China Everbright Bank Co Ltd, which launched a $2.8 billion offering on Tuesday.

Cinda, one of the four major bad-debt managers established in 1999 to save then-faltering State-owned lenders, said on Wednesday that it raised HK$18.5 billion ($2.4 billion) by issuing 5.3 billion shares at HK$3.58 each, the top of the price range. The shares will start trading on Thursday.

Funds from the offering will boost bad-debt management, financial investments and asset management, it added.

The announcement came after China Everbright Bank, the lending unit of State-owned China Everbright Group, said in its prospectus that it plans to raise up to $2.8 billion by offering 5.08 billion new shares at HK$3.83 to HK$4.27 apiece. The country's 11th-largest lender is joining its mainland peers in a fundraising spree ahead of new regulations that require lenders to hold more capital as a buffer to risks.

Everbright's 19 cornerstone investors include Ocean Fortune Investment Ltd, Ever Ideal Ltd, Prudential Insurance Co of America, Sun Life Assurance Co of Canada and Sinochem International (Overseas) Pte Ltd. Those investors pledged to buy shares worth $1.74 billion, representing about 70 percent of the value of the IPO.

Cornerstone investors are usually big institutions that promise large share purchases in advance and promise to hold them for at least six months.

The two major offerings are helping Hong Kong's IPO market regain vigor. Investors were worried that the city might see last year's doom extended, after it missed out on the huge offering by Alibaba Group Holding Ltd earlier this year. But a slew of other offerings saved the market from another lackluster year.

So far, about $12 billion has been raised in Hong Kong, beating last year's $11.4 billion. That's still a long way behind the peak in 2010, when around $59 billion was raised.

Last week, a $200 million deal by Fu Shou Yuan International Group Ltd, a mainland-based company that manages burial grounds, also offered some excitement to the market. Investors showed strong interest in the offering as they see great potential for China's funeral industry amid the country's aging population.

In November, 16 IPO applications were filed to Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Ltd, aiming to raise $6 billion.

Wang Jianhui, chief economist at Southwest Securities Co Ltd, said that the IPO market is benefiting from the strong reform signal sent by Beijing at last month's Third Plenum of the 18th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China. The meeting mapped out encouraging changes for the world's second-biggest economy and has boosted global sentiment toward investment in China, he added.

Whether momentum can be kept in the Hong Kong market is doubtful, though, as the mainland plans to snap a 14-month hiatus and reopen the gates for IPOs in January.

Securities regulator pledged on Nov 30 to allow at least 50 companies to float shares by January next year. More than 760 IPO candidates are now in the pipeline, and the China Securities Regulatory Commission said it will take almost a year to assess all of them.

"(The resumption of IPOs on the mainland) will have some impact, but not big-time. An IPO is not just about raising money, and Hong Kong offers a lot more," said Zhang Qi, a stock market analyst at Haitong Securities Co Ltd.

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