Postal Savings Bank of China IPO raises $7.4 billion after pricing at low end

HONG KONG (Reuters) - State-owned Postal Savings Bank of China (PSBC) 1658.HK raised $7.4 billion in the world's biggest initial public offering in two years, but the deal priced at the lower end of expectations and was heavily reliant on cornerstone investors.

A man pushes his bicycle past a branch of China Post's Postal Savings Bank of China in Wuhan, Hubei province May 4, 2012. REUTERS/Stringer/File Photo

Seeking to bolster its balance sheet and fund lending, the bank initially sought as much as $8.1 billion in the Hong Kong listing, counting on its network of more than 40,000 branches and low level of non-performing loans to attract investors.

But it had to pare back the size of the offering as some investors balked at paying valuations higher than domestic rivals.

PSBC priced 12.1 billion new shares at HK$4.76 each, after marketing the offering between HK$4.68 and HK$5.18 per share, people with direct knowledge of the deal said on Wednesday.

They declined to be identified because details of the pricing have not been officially announced. PSBC declined to comment.

A group of six cornerstone investors agreed to purchase $5.7 billion or 77 percent of the shares on offer, offsetting tepid demand from global fund managers and local retail investors.

The cornerstone tranche came in slightly below the record set by China Development Bank Financial Leasing Co Ltd 1606.HK in its $810 million listing in July.

Large investments by cornerstone investors hurt liquidity for IPOs once the shares start trading, as the stock is locked up for a minimum of six months. The cornerstone money can also pressure the stock as the expiration of the lock-up period nears.

In the world's biggest IPO since Alibaba Group Holding Ltd's BABA.N $25 billion listing in 2014, some 26 banks stand to jointly earn up to $118.4 million in fees, according to PSBC's prospectus. That is equivalent to a 1.1 percent underwriting commission and a 0.5 percent incentive fee.

Bank of America Merrill Lynch, China International Capital Corp (CICC), Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan and Morgan Stanley were hired as sponsors of the IPO and will earn $100,000 each in sponsor fees.

($1 = 7.7558 Hong Kong dollars)

Reporting by Fiona Lau of IFR and Elzio Barreto; Editing by Edwina Gibbs