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HKEx approves ABC's IPO application

Jun. 14, 2010 (China Knowledge) - Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearings Ltd<0388>, operator of the city's stock and futures exchanges, on Friday approved Agricultural Bank of China's initial public offering plan in Hong Kong, sources reported.

The HKEx's approval helps eliminate the last barrier for the IPO.

Early this week, ABC secured approval from the China Securities Regulatory Commission, the country's stock market watchdog, to launch the dual IPO in Hong Kong and Shanghai. The deal is expected to be the largest IPO in the world.

According to the ABC's prospectus released on last Friday, the lender plans to issue up to 25.6 billion A shares, or 47% of its IPO size, on the Shanghai Stock Exchange and up to 29.2 billion H shares, or 53% of its IPO size, on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. If ABC fully exercises its overallotment options, the final offering size will account for 17% of its enlarged capital.

ABC, the only one of the country's Big Four state-owned banks that is not listed, has set the IPO price range at RMB 2.5 to RMB 2.6 per share and it is expected to raise as much as US$21 billion, according to an earlier report from China Knowledge.

The bank plans to be listed in Shanghai on Jul.15 and in Hong Kong on Jul. 16, if the application is approved, according to sources familiar with the situation.

ABC, which has always been focus on extending loans to farmers and agricultural businesses in China's rural areas under the guidance of the government, is stepping out effort to change its business models.

Currently, China's sovereign wealth fund and the Ministry of Finance jointly own over 96% of ABC.  

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