(Corrects analyst’s company in paragraph 7 to Essence Securities from Guosen Securities)
* Beijing approves plan to raise up to $3.4 bln in HK listing
* HK hearing on listing to be held on Thursday
* Company seeks to better compete with bigger rivals (Adds details, background)
SHANGHAI, Nov 25 (Reuters) - China Pacific Insurance (Group) Co Ltd 601601.SS, China's third-largest life insurer, has received government approval for its long-delayed plan to float shares in Hong Kong to raise at least 23.3 billion yuan ($3.4 billion).
The China Securities Regulatory Commission has approved the company’s plan to list up to 990 million shares overseas, the insurance group said on Wednesday.
The Shanghai-based insurer had said it would price its Hong Kong IPO at no less than 23.52 yuan per share.
The listing plan will still need approval from the Hong Kong exchange, where a hearing is set for Thursday.
China Pacific, part-owned by U.S. private equity firm Carlyle Group [CYL.UL], is taking advantage of a stock market revival this year to raise money and compete more aggressively with bigger rivals Ping An Insurance (Group) Co 2318.HK601318.SS and China Life Insurance Co 2628.HK601628.SS.
The company suspended a Hong Kong share offer plan last year due to the global financial crisis.
“The Hong Kong IPO would have a positive impact on China Pacific’s A-share price in the short term,” said Yang Jianhai, analyst at Essence Securities Co. “The challenge in the long term is how to improve its return on equity (ROE).”
China Pacific Shanghai-listed A shares rose 1.3 percent to 25.69 yuan in early trade on Wednesday, compared with a virtually flat benchmark Shanghai Composite Index .SSEC. The stock has gained 130 percent this year, far outperforming the benchmark's 77 percent rise.
China Pacific has hired China International Capital Corp, Credit Suisse CSGN.VX, UBS UBS.N and Goldman Sachs GS.N to help arrange the Hong Kong share sale, people familiar with the matter told Reuters in July. ($1=6.828 Yuan) (Reporting by Rujun Shen and Edmund Klamann; Editing by Jacqueline Wong) ((email@example.com; +86 21 6104 1799; Reuters Messaging: firstname.lastname@example.org)) ((If you have a query or comment on this story, send an email to email@example.com))
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