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Nuclear giant launches $3.1b public offering in Hong Kong

2014-11-28 08:53 China Daily Web Editor: Qin Dexing

The largest nuclear plant operator by installed capacity in China, CGN Power Co Ltd, launched its Hong Kong initial public offering on Thursday, a sign that the race for new nuclear power plant construction is heating up in the world's fastest-growing nuclear market.

CGN Power, a subsidiary of China General Nuclear Power Group, began taking orders from investors on Thursday. It plans to issue up to 8.825 billion shares on the stock exchange in Hong Kong at a range of HK$2.43 (31 cents) to HK$2.78, it said in an announcement.

The deal will be priced on Dec 3 and the shares will list on Dec 10. If all goes as scheduled, it will become the first Chinese nuclear power company to go public.

"The market is responding enthusiastically to the float of CGN Power," a person close to the development said. "Though we haven't put all the numbers together, from what we have seen, the company is on track for an oversubscription."

Many long-only funds and hedge funds are interested because of the unique nature of the company and its plan to inject more assets after listing. "It's worth holding," the person said, adding that the 33 percent of profits promised for annual dividends are "slightly higher than the market average".

The company will raise about $3.164 billion at the top of its expected range. More than half of the proceeds will go toward buying a stake in the Taishan nuclear power station, which is owned by parent CGN.

About 27.5 percent will be used to operate current nuclear projects and the rest used to build more plants and expand overseas, according to the notice.

The deal comes as China's three major nuclear companies are racing to build more plants at home and trying to leverage their experience to capture deals overseas.

The country has been promoting nuclear power amid the mounting pressure of air pollution.

China aims to raise its installed nuclear capacity from 14.6 gigawatts in 2013 to 50 gW by the end of 2017. Among all types of clean energy, only solar power is expected to grow faster.

"Nuclear power has bright prospects in China. We need more electricity to fuel economic growth. Meanwhile, the country is restructuring the energy sector to be greener and more sustainable," Gao Ligang, executive director and president of CGN Power, told reporters in Hong Kong.

As of Sept 30, CGN Power's total debt was 81.5 billion yuan ($13.3 billion), of which two-thirds was long-term debt. Ten percent was set to mature within one year.

"CGN Power has a decent scale and stable business," said Zhang Liang, an analyst at Sun Hung Kai Financial. "It's not a surprise to see a lot of debts on its balance sheet. It is an asset-heavy business and they have many projects under construction."

CGN is on track to more than double its installed nuclear capacity from 8.3 gW at the end of 2013 to 21.7 gW by 2016.

Its major competitor, China National Nuclear Corp, is awaiting approval for an IPO in Shanghai as it accelerates overseas expansion.

China has 21 nuclear reactors operating at eight sites and 28 under construction.

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