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New China Life Said to Plan $4 Billion IPO as Early as October

New China Life Insurance Co., the Chinese insurer backed by Zurich Financial Services AG, plans to raise up to $4 billion in an initial public offering, two people with knowledge of the matter said.

The share sale may take place as early as October, after the Beijing-based insurer filed an application for the IPO to the Hong Kong stock exchange this week, the people said, asking not to be identified. The company may raise $3 billion to $4 billion by selling stock in Hong Kong and Shanghai, one of the people said.

New China Life is planning the IPO as slowing economic growth in the U.S. and the European sovereign debt crisis spurred a global equity market rout. In May, people familiar with the matter said the share sale could raise as much as $5 billion.

New China Life’s media office didn’t immediately reply to an e-mail seeking comment today.

The company hired Bank of America Corp., BNP Paribas SA, China International Capital Corp., Deutsche Bank AG, Goldman Sachs Group Inc., HSBC Holdings Plc, JPMorgan Chase & Co. and UBS AG to manage the Hong Kong sale, people said in May.

New China Life posted a profit of 2.3 billion yuan ($359 million) last year, according to the 2010 annual report posted on its website on April 29. The company’s total assets stood at 304.6 billion yuan as of Dec. 31, the report showed.

New China Life boosted gross premiums by 40 percent last year to become the nation’s third-biggest life insurer by market share, overtaking China Pacific Insurance (Group) Co., according to government data.

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