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Huishang Bank Said to Plan $1 Billion Hong Kong IPO in 2014

Huishang Bank Corp., a lender in China’s eastern Anhui province, is preparing for an initial public offering in Hong Kong that could raise about $1 billion, according to two people with knowledge of the matter.

Huishang, based in the city of Hefei, invited investment banks to bid for advisory roles, the people said, asking not to be identified because the information is private. The share sale may start next year, they said.

Companies have raised $4.6 billion from IPOs in Hong Kong this year, more than triple the amount for the same period of 2012, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Financial-services firms account for two of the three largest IPOs in the city in the past 12 months, the data show.

Founded in December 2005, Huishang had about 5,500 employees and 190 outlets at the end of last year, according to the lender’s website.

Two calls to the bank’s Hefei office seeking comment went unanswered. IFR first reported on the share sale yesterday.

Regional Chinese lenders are seeking ways to raise capital as bad loans in the nation’s banking system rose for a sixth straight quarter and the securities regulator maintains a freeze on reviewing new IPO applications that began in October.

Bad Loans

Non-performing loans climbed by 33.6 billion yuan ($5.5 billion) in the three months ended March 31, to 526.5 billion yuan. The sixth straight quarterly gain marked the longest deterioration streak in at least nine years, according to data released by the banking regulator.

The China Securities Regulatory Commission extended the freeze on IPOs after former chairman Guo Shuqing ordered an audit of offering documents in December. Xiao Gang, who took over from Guo in March, has extended the policy and vowed boost investor protection and enforcement of securities rules.

More than a dozen regional banks, including Bank of Jiangsu Co. in eastern Jiangsu province and Bank of Chengdu Co., backed by Malaysia’s Hong Leong Bank Bhd., have applied for first-time share sales on the mainland, according to the CSRC’s website. Huishang Bank has also applied to sell shares in China.

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