Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Insurer AIA sets date for $15 bln Hong Kong IPO

AIA, the Asian unit of troubled US insurer AIG, will launch a 15 billion US dollar share sale on October 29 in what could be the world's second-biggest stock offering this year, reports said Tuesday.

The insurer was seeking approval from Hong Kong's bourse on Tuesday with plans to set a price range next week, the Wall Street Journal and Financial Times reported, both citing unnamed sources.

If approved on Tuesday, AIA will start investor presentations on October 6, the Journal reported.

AIA is also hoping to sign an agreement next week with so-called cornerstone investors -- generally institutional buyers -- who could pick up as much as one-fifth of the offering, the Financial Times said.

AIG, which owes billions of dollars in US government bailouts, was forced to look again at the option of publicly floating AIA in Hong Kong after the collapse in June of Prudential's 35.5-billion US dollar takeover bid.

Chinese insurance companies and some of China's largest banks are said to be looking at both taking stakes and financing others, according to the Financial Times.

In July, Hong Kong's South China Morning Post newspaper reported that at least four consortia made up of private Chinese investors had approached AIG about buying its Asian business.

Sovereign wealth funds had also expressed an interest in AIA, including Singapore's GIC and Temasek, as well as funds in Abu Dhabi, Kuwait and Qatar, the Financial Times said.

Agricultural Bank of China claimed the world's biggest IPO in August when confirming it had raised 22.1 billion US dollars, after its shares debuted in Hong Kong in July.

The monster sale beat the previous world record set by the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, which raised 21.9 billion dollars in 2006.

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