Heilongjiang plans fresh issue

PUBLISHED : Friday, 17 August, 2001, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 17 August, 2001, 12:00am

Heilongjiang Agriculture, which aborted plans to list in Hong Kong in 1999, now hopes to secure a listing in Shanghai by the end of the year.

The company, part of China's largest agri-business group, intended to issue about 300 million A shares in a bid to raise up to two billion yuan (about HK$1.87 billion), a company official said.

The listing plan is still awaiting approval from the China Securities Regulatory Commission.

'We are trying to complete the process within the year,' he said.

Heilongjiang Agriculture attempted a HK$1.7 billion issue in Hong Kong in January 1999, which would have paved the way for it to become the first mainland agricultural counter to trade in the SAR.

But that honour went instead to Fujian-based organic food producer Chaoda Modern Agriculture (Holdings), which listed in December last year.

Heilongjiang Agriculture was to sell 630 million H shares at HK$2.16 to HK$2.71 each through the issue, launched amid market volatility and souring sentiment towards such mainland companies in the wake of the Asian financial crisis.

The issue was officially shelved after institutional and professional investors gave its 567 million share international placement a dull reception.

Heilongjiang Agriculture, which produces agriculture-related products, including green food and agricultural machinery, is a subsidiary of Heilongjiang Beidahuang Agribusiness Group.

The latter's parent, Heilongjiang General Bureau of State Farms, ranked among China's top-120 enterprises and was the country's largest agri-business group by turnover and profits, said bureau deputy director Dong Shiming.

Beijing had been encouraging consolidation of the country's fragmented farms into larger groups to boost the domestic sector's competitiveness before increasing foreign competition which was likely to follow its World Trade Organisation membership.

The bureau controls more than two million hectares of farmland, 1.51 per cent of the national total.