China's Landmark IPO Priced to Move

06/28/2010 10:05 am EST


Jim Jubak

Founder and Editor,

Agricultural Bank of China priced the Shanghai portion of its IPO (initial public offering) today at 2.52 yuan to 2.68 yuan per share. The Hong Kong portion of this IPO priced last week. Today’s announcement keeps the deal on track for a mid-July offering. (I’ve repeatedly called this IPO an indicator of whether China’s banks will be able to raise all the capital they need, and a way for investors to decide if it’s time to buy China’s stocks. For more on those ideas, see this post.)

At the indicated Shanghai and Hong Kong prices, the offering would raise about $20 billion. That’s at the low end of the $20-$30 billion range projected for the IPO a few months ago. But that’s still enough for me to call the offering a qualified success.

That’s especially true if, as I suspect, the Chinese government is pricing the stock low enough to assure a rally in the first month of trading.

This hasn’t been a good year for China’s bank stocks. For example, shares of Industrial & Commercial Bank of China are down 22% this year on the Shanghai market. Given that Beijing has pulled out all the stops to round up big investors to make sure that this IPO goes, it would be unusual if the government didn’t engineer a solid profit as a thank you.

Despite the bear market in Chinese stocks that stretches back to November 2009, Shanghai and Shenzhen IPOs this year have gained an average of 29% in their first month of trading, according to Bloomberg.

Full disclosure: I don’t own shares of any company mentioned in this post.

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