INTERVIEW-China PICC Group sees Shanghai listing in H2 2013
BEIJING, March 9 (Reuters) - Chinese state-owned People's Insurance Company of China Group (PICC), one of the country's largest insurers, could complete an A-share listing in Shanghai in the second half of this year, the firm's chairman Wu Yan told Reuters.
PICC, among the last of China's big state-backed firms to go public, listed shares in Hong Kong in December 2012 in a $3.1 billion initial public offering (IPO), but was forced by regulators to delay a planned dual listing in Shanghai.
"Last year's success of our H-share debut boosted our confidence, so for the A-share listing we would rather to select a more appropriate time window and I think it is possible in the second half," Wu said on the sidelines of the annual meeting of China's parliament, the National People's Congress.
The China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC), the country's stock market watchdog, suspended domestic IPO approvals in November to reduce equity supply and stabilise a stock market that has been stuck in a generally downward trend since peaking in 2007.
The CSI 300 index of top share listings in Shanghai and Shenzhen has lost some 55 percent of its value from its October 2007 top, defying expectations of investors that China's steady economic growth since would bolster share prices.
PICC's share sale was Hong Kong's biggest IPO in two years.
Retail investors bid for 17.5 times more than the number of shares offered to them, while so-called cornerstone investors, including U.S. insurer American International Group (AIG), took the bulk of the equity issued.
The cornerstone investors committed to hold their shares for at least six months, but AIG agreed to sell no more than 25 percent of its PICC shares within five years, dependent upon the progress of a planned joint venture between the two insurers.
Insufficient progress would give AIG the right to sell its PICC shares from May 2013.
Wu said a sale of PICC shares by AIG would have no consequences for the Chinese insurer's business, but said progress was being made on the tie-up which must go through several stages of regulatory approval.
"We can only do what we are doing. We have no way to control the timing," he said.
PICC shares traded in Hong Kong closed up 0.7 percent on Friday. The stock has gained 31.3 percent on its IPO price.
(Reporting by Shen Yan, Aileen Wang and Nick Edwards; Editing by Michael Perry)