Hong Kong (AFP) Sept 21, 2010
AIA, the Asian unit of troubled US insurer AIG, will launch a 15 billion US dollar share sale on October 29 in what could be the world's second-biggest stock offering this year, reports said Tuesday.
The insurer was seeking approval from Hong Kong's bourse on Tuesday with plans to set a price range next week, the Wall Street Journal and Financial Times reported, both citing unnamed sources.
If approved on Tuesday, AIA will start investor presentations on October 6, the Journal reported.
AIA is also hoping to sign an agreement next week with so-called cornerstone investors -- generally institutional buyers -- who could pick up as much as one-fifth of the offering, the Financial Times said.
AIG, which owes billions of dollars in US government bailouts, was forced to look again at the option of publicly floating AIA in Hong Kong after the collapse in June of Prudential's 35.5-billion US dollar takeover bid.
Chinese insurance companies and some of China's largest banks are said to be looking at both taking stakes and financing others, according to the Financial Times.
In July, Hong Kong's South China Morning Post newspaper reported that at least four consortia made up of private Chinese investors had approached AIG about buying its Asian business.
Sovereign wealth funds had also expressed an interest in AIA, including Singapore's GIC and Temasek, as well as funds in Abu Dhabi, Kuwait and Qatar, the Financial Times said.
Agricultural Bank of China claimed the world's biggest IPO in August when confirming it had raised 22.1 billion US dollars, after its shares debuted in Hong Kong in July.
The monster sale beat the previous world record set by the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, which raised 21.9 billion dollars in 2006.
earlier related report
The Hong Kong-listed China Strategic Holdings on Monday formally called off its high-profile acquisition of Nan Shan Life Insurance Co from AIG for 2.15 billion US dollars.
"AIG is evaluating its options with respect to its ownership of Nan Shan," AIG said in a statement, without providing details.
China Strategic's decision came after Taiwan's Investment Commission last month rejected an application by China Strategic Holdings and its partner Primus Financial Holdings for the acquisition of Nan Shan.
The duo were invited to appeal, but they have not done so.
Taiwan authorities said they feared the consortium lacked the experience needed to manage an insurer and argued it had failed to provide a long-term management commitment, claims flatly rejected by the Hong Kong consortium.
The rejection of the bid came as a blow to AIG, once the world's largest insurer, which has been selling assets to pay back US government loans since its rescue from collapse during the 2008 financial crisis.
AIG and its Hong Kong buyers struck the deal in October last year, but it has been in limbo as Taiwan authorities have screened it.
Rumours surfaced late last year that mainland Chinese capital was involved in the deal. The consortium has repeatedly denied the rumours.
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Swedish home furniture giant Ikea pitched Monday for fast-growing India to open up its huge retail market to foreigners and said it planned more stores in emerging market giant China. India's tight investment rules restrict overseas retail firms to "back-end" wholesaling - except for single-brand outlets such as Nokia or Reebok - to protect local, family-run stores which fear being driven ... read more
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