* Stock broker Haitong ends flat after $1.7 bln offer
* No sign of broader pick-up in Asia-Pacific markets
By Melanie Lee and Elzio Barreto
SHANGHAI/HONG KONG April 27 Shares in China's
People.cn Co Ltd closed 74 percent higher on their
first day of trading on Friday, putting a market value higher
than the New York Times on the state-backed news portal
after a $219 million public offer.
But its performance contrasted with the flat Hong Kong debut
of the very different Haitong Securities Co, China's
No. 2 brokerage by assets, which raised $1.7 billion in
Asia-Pacific's biggest share offering this year.
And analysts said that despite the success of People.cn's
sale there was little sign of a broader pick up in Asia-Pacific
equity capital markets after what Thomson Reuters data shows to
be their slowest start in four years.
In Shanghai, demand for People.cn shares was so high that
the stock was suspended for most of the afternoon after
triggering multiple circuit breakers on the stock exchange.
"Investors are scrambling for People.cn due to its
scarcity," said Liu Guanwu, a media IPO analyst with
Beijing-based consultancy Analysys International.
At its Friday close of 34.72 yuan, 73.6 percent higher than
the initial public offering price of 20 yuan, People.cn was
worth 9.6 billion yuan ($1.5 billion), more than New York Times,
which has a market capitalization of $951 million.
"Institutional investors I have spoken to seem rather
interested in this stock primarily because it's a government
entity," said Chen Yi, an equity analyst with Xiangcai
Securities in Shanghai.
"From the look of things, retail investors seem to have also
The Shanghai Composite Index closed 0.35 percent
lower at 2,396.3 points.
Haitong's debut better reflected the picture in the
Asia-Pacific region for raising funds through share issues.
Deal values have dropped 20 percent so far in 2012 from the
same time last year. Even a 13 percent rise in the benchmark
Hong Kong share index .HSI has failed to spark investor interest
in new listings.
"People are worried about Europe's debt crisis," said Jasper
Chan, corporate finance officer at brokerage Phillip Securities
in Hong Kong. "Perhaps there will be no rebound in offerings
Haitong's offer had been seen as crucial to kick start Hong
Kong's sluggish IPO market. It is already listed in Shanghai
Haitong ended flat at HK$10.60 compared with a 0.33 percent
fall in the benchmark Hong Kong share index. It will use
the proceeds to fund overseas takeovers and expand margin
finance, hedge fund and private equity businesses.
State-owned media organisations such as People.cn have been
officially encouraged to list shares in the domestic market to
get capital for improving services and to extend Beijing's
control over the Internet sector.
Xinhuanet, the Internet portal of state news agency Xinhua,
is also set to raise 1 billion yuan in Shanghai, but like
People.cn, it will have to compete hard for advertising dollars
with private media Internet firms Sina Corp and
Sohu.com Inc, more focused on entertainment than news.
In 2010, China's Ministry of Finance was People.cn's biggest
customer, accounting for 22.2 percent of its revenue.
People.cn raised 1.38 billion yuan in its initial public
offering, more than twice its target, and is one of the first
state-controlled media groups to list. It sold 69.1 million
shares near the bottom of its indicative range of 20.0-22.50
($1 = 6.3060 Chinese yuan)
(Additional reporting by Clement Tan in HONG KONG; Editing by
Kazunori Takada, Denny Thomas and Matthew Tostevin)