ABC's mega float to have little impact on A-share market

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Agricultural Bank of China's (ABC) mega float is unlikely to cause big waves on the domestic A-share market despite the sluggish and uncertain trend, analysts said.

Shares of the last major State-owned lender to list will be publicly traded in Shanghai on July 15 and a day later in Hong Kong.

The lender has been grappling with uncertain market conditions after the benchmark Shanghai Composite Index plunged more than 26 percent this year on growth concerns and a double-dip recession globally.

Investors were also apprehensive that the ABC float would drain huge amounts of capital from an already weak market.

But analysts are of the view that the negative effects will be minimal on the market, as many of the concerns have been factored in the recent declines.

The expected strong backing from government institutions and domestic funds for the float will also help bolster market sentiments, they said.

Zhang Qi, an analyst with Haitong Securities in Shanghai, dispels doubts of ABC shares listing below their offer price.

Valuations are still low and the possibility of capital injection from government institutions will help the float, he said.

China's national pension fund has reportedly bought more than 2 billion yuan worth ($295 million) of A shares recently in a move to boost market liquidity and investor sentiment.

ABC will sell 22.2 billion shares in Shanghai at a price of 2.68 yuan for each share and 25.4 billion shares in Hong Kong at HK$3.20 each. That means it will raise $19.3 billion from the float. If the lender decides to exercise its greenshoe option, the float size will go up to $22 billion.

Zhang said ABC offer price does not give the lender much of an advantage as many of its peers listed in Shanghai and Hong Kong have even lower price-to-book ratios.

Listings of big-capitalization stocks are often considered enemies of the stock market. An example to this was the PetroChina's IPO in 2007. The company's shares fell below the offer price not long after listing, and many retail investors booked heavy losses.

Market watchers said the ABC float may make or break market sentiment, as it will test investors' risk appetite. It will also be an indicator for other Chinese lenders that are planning similar capital raisings this year.

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