China Pacific Raises $3.1 Billion in IPO

HONG KONG (Reuters) – China Pacific Insurance (Group) Co Ltd, the country’s third-largest life insurer, raised US$3.1 billion in the world’s seventh-largest IPO this year, when it priced its Hong Kong initial public offering near the middle of an indicated range, a source familiar with the deal said on Wednesday.

Shanghai-listed China Pacific (601601.SS), part-owned by U.S. private equity firm Carlyle Group, sold 861.3 million shares, or 10.2 percent of its enlarged share capital, at HK$28.0 each (US$3.6), compared with a range of HK$26.8 to HK$30.1, the source said.

At the offering price, China Pacific Insurance is valued at about 1.8 times 2010 basis embedded value estimated by bookrunners.

By comparison, China Life (2628.HK), China’s No.1 life insurer traded at 2.87 times forecast 2010 embedded value, while No. 2 life insurer Ping An (2318.HK) traded at 3.71 times forecast 2010 embedded value, according to a UBS research report.

China Pacific Insurance’s Hong Kong share offering price has about 5 percent discount to its Shanghai-based shares, which ended on Tuesday at 26.03 yuan (US$3.81).

Its Shanghai-based shares have gained 134 percent this year, outperforming the Shanghai Composite Index’s .SSEC 80 percent rise.

The insurer has also signed up five cornerstone investors, including Allianz, Mitsui Sumitomo, for a combined $395 million worth of shares, with a commitment not to sell their investments for six months. Carlyle is committed to holding its shares for at least one year.

China Pacific Insurance’s trading debut set for Dec 23, under the symbol “2601” (2601.HK).

China International Capital Corp (CICC), Credit Suisse (CSGN.VX), Goldman Sachs (GS.N) and UBS (UBSN.VX) are handling the deal.

China’s life insurance market has seen an increase in recent years, thanks in part to Beijing’s focus on health care and the rapid economic growth in the world’s third-biggest economy.

(US$1=HK$7.75=6.83 yuan)

(Reporting by Kennix Chim, Editing by Ken Wills)