China’s Harbin Bank Said to Apply for $1 Billion Hong Kong IPO

Harbin Bank Co., a Chinese lender based near the Russian border, applied to the Hong Kong stock exchange for a $1 billion initial public offering, said two people with knowledge of the matter.

All three sponsors of the IPO are Chinese investment banks, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the information is private. The lender, based in the capital of northeastern China’s Heilongjiang province, aims to start trading in the first half, they said.

Western firms were kept out of Harbin Bank’s lead underwriter lineup as Chinese investment banks advance in Hong Kong’s league tables. Harbin would be the city’s second billion-dollar IPO in at least 10 years with only Chinese firms among the top arrangers, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

ABC International Holdings Ltd., BOC International Holdings Ltd. and China International Capital Corp. are joint sponsors for Harbin Bank’s share sale, the people said.

Five Chinese banks were among the top 10 underwriters of Hong Kong IPOs last year, the best showing since Bloomberg started compiling the data in 1999. The list included the three sponsors of Harbin Bank’s sale, as well as Haitong Securities Co. and Bank of Communications Co.

Hong Kong introduced new rules for underwriting IPOs that took effect in October, giving firms that act as sponsors greater responsibility for ensuring that information in share-sale prospectuses is accurate.

Beijing-based Citic Securities Co. was the top underwriter for Hui Xian Real Estate Investment Trust’s $1.8 billion Hong Kong IPO in March 2011, data compiled by Bloomberg show. Hui Xian was the first yuan-denominated IPO in the city.

Harbin Bank, founded in 1997, has 15 branches in China, according to its website. It had 270 billion yuan ($44 billion) of assets at the end of 2012, the website shows.

A Hong Kong-based external spokeswoman for Harbin Bank declined to comment on the IPO plan.

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