China's Government Wants Agricultural Bank to Postpone IPO, SCMP Reports

China’s Ministry of Finance and Central Huijin Investment Co., the two main shareholders of Agricultural Bank of China, want the lender to delay a planned share sale on concern there isn’t enough interest, the South China Morning Post reported, citing two unidentified people involved in the offering.

The bank’s chairman Xiang Junbo wants to proceed with the sale, the Post quoted the two people as saying.

Agricultural Bank, China’s largest lender by customers, plans to sell a 15 percent stake in an initial public offering, according to its June 4 prospectus. The lender will likely raise as much as $23.4 billion, Industrial Securities Co. estimated in a report on June 6, less than the $30 billion reported by local media.

Calls to the office of Hu Jinglin, assistant minister of the finance ministry, went unanswered out of office hours, while no one could be reached at Central Huijin.

Investors are concerned about the stability of China banks, which lent a record 9.6 trillion yuan last year, raising concern about bad loans, the Post said.

Beijing-based Agricultural Bank plans to sell 22.235 billion shares in Shanghai and 25.411 billion shares in Hong Kong, excluding an over-allotment option, according to a document posted on the securities regulator’s website.

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