China AgBank IPO Could Be One for the Record Books

Agricultural Bank of China, the last of China's four big banks to go public, is on track to rake in more than $19 billion when it debuts on the Shanghai stocks markets July 15 and in Hong Kong a day later, according to reports. The offering could go as high as $22 billion, making it the largest ever.

AgBank and its advisers Tuesday set the price for the Hong Kong portion of the IPO at 3.20 Hong Kong dollars (41 U.S. cents) a piece, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing unnamed people familiar with the matter. In Shanghai, shares were priced at 2.68 yuan (about 40 cents), at the top end of the range, they said.

At those prices, AgBank could raise $22.1 billion if over-allotment options are exercised, besting rival Industrial & Commercial Bank of China. ICBC's $21.9 billion IPO in 2006 is the world's largest to date.

The initial public offering still faces a tough aftermarket and has already fought through a plunging Chinese stock market and a euro zone debt crisis that has shaken other markets around the world, Reuters reported. Despite such headwinds, China's third largest bank by assets has been able to pull in strong demand for the IPO.

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