MARKETS & INVESTING | Staff Reporter, Hong Kong

AgriBank to raise $19.2 bln for biggest IPO

China's largest lender by customers priced its Hong Kong shares at HK $3.20 apiece on Wednesday after the stock was offered for HK$2.88 to HK$3.48.

Agricultural Bank of China Ltd. is raising at least $19.2 billion in what may become the world’s biggest initial public offering, according to two people with knowledge of the pricing and a company filing in Shanghai.

BLOOMBERG reported that Agricultural Bank of China sold its Hong Kong shares at HK$3.20 apiece on Wednesday after the stock was offered for HK$2.88 to HK$3.48, said the two people, who declined to be identified before a public announcement is made. The Beijing-based company is selling 22.2 billion shares in Shanghai at 2.68 yuan (40 cents) each, the top of its range, it said in a statement to the city’s stock exchange.

Chairman Xiang Junbo overcame a stock market rout that drove the Shanghai Composite Index to a 15-month low this week and led companies to shelve almost 50 IPOs worldwide in the past three months. The lender can expand the sale to $22.1 billion using an overallotment option, allowing it to surpass $21.9 billion IPO in 2006.

“Given market conditions, they should be pleased” with the pricing, said Uri Landesman, president of New York-based hedge fund Platinum Partners LLP, which oversees about $525 million. “It sends out a mildly reassuring message about how global investors feel about the market in general and the greater China area in particular.”

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