China’s AgBank confirms world-record IPO

According to the AFP, “Agricultural Bank of China on Tuesday confirmed plans to raise a world-record 23.2 billion dollars in a dual initial public offering in Hong Kong and Shanghai.  The last of China’s “big four” state banks to list said it would raise the money if the monster IPO is fully subscribed when it begins on Wednesday.

Major institutional investors including sovereign wealth funds have already expressed strong interest in the IPO, which is on course to surpass the previous record of 22 billion dollars set in 2006 by Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC).  AgBank said Tuesday that it planned to raise 13.1 billion US dollars from its Hong Kong IPO, with a price range of 2.88-3.48 Hong Kong dollars (37-44 US cents) a share. Xiang Junbo, chairman of AgBank, said government efforts to boost growth in China’s depressed central and western regions would help the rural lender.

“The county area business will be one of our key profit drivers,” he told a press conference in Hong Kong on Tuesday. “(AgBank) is well positioned to capitalise on China’s next wave of growth.”

The bank, which has been criticised for the amount of bad loans on its books, has worked in recent years to chop that figure, Xiang said.

Agbank’s prospectus said its bad debt ratio dropped from 4.32 percent in 2008 to 2.91 percent in 2009.

“The bank has made substantial improvement in the last few years,” Xiang said, referring to its credit review procedures.

The newly released prospectus said AgBank booked a profit of 65 billion yuan (9.56 billion US dollars) in 2009, up from 51.45 billion yuan in 2008. It is forecasting a 2010 profit of 82.9 billion yuan. Xiang also said a stronger yuan — demanded by the United States and other trading nations which claim they have been hurt by an unfairly cheap Chinese currency — could be “positive” for AgBank.”

Read more: AFP



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