China's Tencent hits $200 bln market cap for first time

BEIJING, April 13 (Reuters) - China’s Tencent Holdings Ltd for the first time hit a market cap of more than $200 billion on Monday, making it more valuable than U.S. tech firms like Inc, IBM Corp and Oracle Corp .

The country’s biggest social networking and online entertainment firm rose 5.38 percent to close at HK$170.50 ($22) in trading in Hong Kong, giving it a market valuation of $206 billion. This is higher than Oracle’s $190 billion, Amazon’s $178 billion and IBM’s $161 billion.

Tencent’s shares have rocketed 52 percent from the beginning of this year, bringing its valuation close to those of U.S. peer Facebook Inc’s $230 billion and Chinese arch rival Alibaba Group Holding Ltd’s $210 billion.

The surge in the Shenzhen-based company’s share price comes as Hong Kong stocks hit fresh seven-year highs on Monday. China recently allowed mutual funds to buy stocks on the Hang Seng Index under the Shanghai-Hong Kong Stock Connect scheme, fuelling the jump in already-rising Tencent shares.

More money is expected to pour in as investors hunt for bargains.

New York-listed Alibaba, the world’s largest e-commerce firm, has seen its shares slide 19 percent year-to-date. This slump owes itself to investor excitement wearing off after the firm’s record-setting $25 billion IPO last September, and a lacklustre set of third-quarter earnings results.

Facebook is up five percent since the beginning of 2015. ($1 = 7.7500 Hong Kong dollars) (Reporting by Paul Carsten, Beijing Newsroom and Gerry Shih; Editing by Gopakumar Warrier)