Agricultural Bank of China's shares inched up yesterday in the Hong Kong portion of its massive IPO, with success seen as a matter of pride for the world's third largest economy.
The lender's shares opened at 3.25 Hong Kong dollars (US$0.42), above the IPO price of 3.20 Hong Kong dollars, and touched US$3.31 before easing back to US$3.26 by lunch.
The last of China's "Big Four" state banks to go public could raise a record US$22.1 billion in a mammoth dual offering that opened in Shanghai on Thursday to a tepid investor response.
AgBank has not yet disclosed whether it will exercise an option to issue additional shares, a crucial factor in determining whether the sale would overtake rival Industrial and Commercial Bank of China's record-setting US$21.9 billion IPO in 2006.
AgBank chairman Xiang Junbo told reporters in Hong Kong the flotation was a "historic moment" and "the first step of the internationalisation of AgBank."
He later added that he was happy with AgBank's share price in light of weakness in the stock market: "I am very satisfied. It's really not too bad - 3.30 dollars," he said referring to the Hong Kong dollar share price.
A host of heavyweight foreign investors had been drummed up to help make a success of the Hong Kong portion of the sale. Investors included Qatar's sovereign investment fund, British bank Standard Chartered and Hong Kong's richest tycoon, Li Ka-shing.
The biggest investor in the Shanghai issue was China Life, the nation's largest life insurer by premium income.