The Bank of China (Hong Kong) was finally listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange to great public fanfare last Thursday morning (25 July)
Allen & Overy (A&O) and Clifford Chance had the key advisory roles on a deal that has been in the pipeline for over two years. The Bank of China is the first state-owned People's Republic of China (PRC) bank to be sold off in what is easily Asia's largest initial public offering (IPO) of the year. The issue is expected to raise up to $2.8bn (£1.78bn) and the newly floated company will have assets of around HK$766bn (£62.52bn). The issue was seen as a litmus test of investors' confidence in the PRC financial services sector and should boost the prospects of further PRC IPOs. The selloff is also part of a programme to reform China's banking sector, which is crucial to the development of the PRC economy. An A&O team, led by corporate partner Stanley Chow and head of the firm's Asian corporate group Michael Lui, provided Hong Kong law advice to joint financial advisers and underwriters BOC International, Goldman Sachs and UBS Warburg. Clifford Chance partners Roger Denny and Christina Choi advised the Bank of China on Hong Kong law. Each side also had US law advisers - Shearman & Sterling for the bank and Sullivan & Cromwell for the underwriters. Lui said in a statement: "The overseas listing of the bank is a crucial step for the PRC banking industry, as it readies its financial institutions for competition from foreign banks. It is another very important project for our corporate group. The listing will serve as a benchmark for the other state-owned banks in the PRC." The IPO attracted massive interest from Hong Kong residents and the 10 per cent of shares set aside for retail investors was extended to 35 per cent. Shares in the bank fell by around 5 per cent from the IPO price on Thursday, and the underwriters had to step in amid lingering concerns from analysts that the bank is overvalued due to its high level of non-performing loans. However, Chow said: "This is the first listing of a PRC financial institution. The financial advisers have done a great job in raising this much money in a tough economic climate."