China's Postal Savings Bank files for potential $10 billion IPO

Thu Jun 30, 2016 7:10am EDT
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HONG KONG (Reuters) - State-owned Postal Savings Bank of China (PSBC), the country's largest bank by number of branches, has filed for a Hong Kong initial public offering (IPO) seeking to raise as much as $10 billion, Thomson Reuters IFR reported on Thursday.

The filing of the preliminary IPO prospectus sets in motion what is expected to be the world's biggest new listing in about two years, valuing the bank at about $50 billion, IFR said, citing sources close to the deal.

The IPO, aimed at raising between $7 billion and $10 billion, could happen as early as September, it said. A PSBC [IPO-PSBC.HK] spokeswoman declined to make immediate comment on the filing.

PSBC's planned offering comes against the backdrop of a nearly 60 percent drop in Asia-Pacific share offerings, ex-Japan, in the first half of 2016 amid the weakest activity since 2008.

Share sales in the region have been hit by volatile equity markets, China's slowest growth in 25 years and growing uncertainty after Britain's vote to leave the European Union.

PSBC, which has more than 40,000 branches nationwide and is considered to have a much lower ratio of bad loans than rivals, was set up as a deposit-taking bank in 2007, using the network of the former postal savings bureau.

The lender plans to sell up to 13.9 billion Hong Kong shares and use the proceeds to bolster its balance sheet, according to a statement on the website of the China Banking Regulatory Commission on June 24.

If the IPO of PSBC, which has about 500 million clients or nearly half of China's population, hits its fund-raising target, it would be the biggest market debut since Alibaba Group's (BABA.N: Quote) record $25 billion listing in September 2014.

A strong response to the offering could revive the sluggish IPO market, with Chinese brokers including Everbright Securities Co (601788.SS: Quote), China Merchants Securities Co (600999.SS: Quote) and China Securities Co looking to raise funds in Hong Kong.   Continued...

People walk past a sign outside a branch of Postal Savings Bank of China (PSBC) in downtown Beijing, China, November 12, 2015.   REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon/File Photo