RPT-China travel firm sets low IPO price after regulator steps up supervision

Tue Jan 14, 2014 5:53am EST

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SHANGHAI Jan 14 (Reuters) - A small Chinese travel company plans to go public by selling shares at half the valuation of those of its peers despite strong demand, after the securities regulator stepped up policing of stock pricing.

The low pricing comes as bankers worry that the regulator's move may lead to companies scaling back fundraising plans as initial public offerings resume after a year-long hiatus.

The China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC) on Sunday said any company pricing its shares at a premium to those of its peers must delay sales by three weeks to publish risk warnings. Seven companies have postponed IPOs since the market reopened two weeks ago.

Beijing Utour International Travel Service Co Ltd is selling up to 17 million shares at 23.15 yuan ($3.83) each, the company said in a document posted on the Shenzhen Stock Exchange website on late on Monday.

The price is equivalent to 22.05 times its 2012 net profit compared with an average price-to-earnings ratio of 42.52 for its industry peers, the company said.

Beijing Utour disregarded over 96 percent of institutional investor bids when setting the price, in line with new rules specifying that all bids above the IPO price must be discounted.

The high elimination rate indicates that the IPO price was set significantly lower than institutional investors' expectations and reinforces analyst concern that regulator actions will elbow out market forces in the IPO valuation process.

Beijing Utour did not provide a reason for the low pricing.

More than 50 companies have announced plans to list on the Shanghai and Shenzhen bourses after the CSRC last month said it would permit the resumption of IPOs which it suspended in November 2012.

Huatai United Securities is lead underwriter for the IPO which will see Beijing Utour trade under the ticker. ($1 = 6.0434 Chinese yuan) (Reporting by Shanghai Newsroom; Editing by Kazunori Takada and Christopher Cushing)

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