ICBC to launch £4bn rights issue

City A.M. Reporter
Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) plans to raise 45bn yuan (£4.2bn) through a rights share offering this month, capping an $80bn fundraising boom by Chinese lenders to replenish capital depleted by last year's lending spree.

ICBC, which first unveiled its rights issue plan in July, will now be selling fewer rights shares in Hong Kong and Shanghai because of a rise in their stock market value since then.

Investors will be entitled to 0.45 shares for every 10 held, meaning it could issue up to 15.03bn new shares, compared with its earlier plan to issue up to 0.6 shares for every 10 held, or 20.04bn shares. ICBC's Shanghai shares are up 8 per cent since July and its Hong Kong shares are up 15 per cent.

The world's most valuable lender priced the issue at 2.99 yuan per share in Shanghai, and the equivalent price of HK$3.49 in Hong Kong, representing a discount to the market price of 37 percent and 47 per cent, respectively.

The discounts are more-or-less in line with those offered by smaller rivals China Construction Bank Ltd (CCB) and Bank of China (BOC), which are raising a combined $18.2bn.

CCB priced its offer at a 27-43 per cent discount to market price, while BOC priced it a 34-41 percent discount.

The steep discount to market prices would give ICBC shareholders more of an incentive to participate in the rights issue, according to Jin Lin, analyst at Orient Securities.

"It will give investors the impression that participating in the rights issue would be a bargain," Jin said, adding that eventually, the overall wealth of investors would not change as the new issuance should drag down ICBC's share prices.

Investors generally welcomed the move, but ICBC's shares were overshadowed to some extent by the central bank's increasing banks' required reserves amid inflation worries.