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Bank's Environmental Awareness Hailed
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A Hong Kong-based environmental organization has praised the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) for promoting online share subscriptions, urging initial public offering (IPO) applicants to be more environmentally aware.


Green Sense, a Hong Kong-based environmental non-governmental organization (NGO), said that despite its massive share sale, the ICBC published the smallest number of prospectuses compared with other mega public offerings in the special administrative region.


The NGO urged Hongkongers, who wasted over 70 percent of the bank's 3.5 million share application forms, to be more environmentally aware and to only "take as many as you need."


During the four-day H-share public offering, the ICBC distributed 160,000 prospectuses, which consumed almost 225 tons of paper and around 3,800 trees, Green Sense estimated. However, the paper consumption of the leading lender's IPO was far lower than any other share issuer in Hong Kong.


Green Sense applauded the ICBC's efforts to protect the environment, including encouraging online share applications and the online announcement of subscription results.


"Rather than make an announcement in the press, the ICBC revealed subscription results via the Internet or telephone hotlines. It also recycled leftover prospectuses," said Green Sense. "We understand and appreciate the ICBC's efforts. The lender has printed the smallest possible number of prospectuses and encouraged share purchasers to be environmentally aware."


Subscribers submitted just 970,000 application forms for the ICBC's H-share offering, accounting for only 28 percent of the total 3.5 million. The remaining 2.53 million forms were wasted, said Green Sense, estimating that 796 trees were used to produce the discarded paper.


Green Sense urged Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing, the city's bourse runner, to establish guidelines on printing prospectuses to cut the amount of paper used, and proposed an maximum of 160,000 prospectuses for massive public offerings. It called on upcoming share issuers to learn from the ICBC's example.


A total of 15 companies floated shares on the Hong Kong stock exchange in the first three quarters of this year. Each company published 5,000 prospectuses, apart from Bank of China and China Merchants Bank, with the two distributing 350,000 and 250,000 respectively.


(China Daily October 30, 2006)

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