Index enters bull market territory and triggers fresh round of issues

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 06 November, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 06 November, 2010, 12:00am

Hang Lung Group unveiled plans yesterday to raise HK$10.9 billion for its property arm through a share placement, striking while the iron is hot after Hong Kong's benchmark stock index crossed into bull market territory.

The controlling shareholder of Hang Lung Properties said it would sell about 293.9 million shares in the developer and subscribe to an equal number of new ones, representing 7.05 per cent of its existing issued share capital. The proceeds will be earmarked for expansion in the mainland.

In other IPO news, Pearl Oriental Innovation and China Glass announced separate plans to tap the market for capital of more than HK$800 million between them. 'The whole market has gone up, the whole world market has gone up, and this will continue,' said Martin Marnick, a director at Anand Rathi in Hong Kong. 'So while the iron is hot, [companies] are going to be tapping the market now rather than later.'

Equity markets from Hong Kong to Hungary have risen over the past few months after the US central bank hinted that it would engage in another round of quantitative easing to jumpstart its economy. The Federal Reserve officially unveiled the programme this week, confirming speculation that loose liquidity conditions would prevail.

The Hang Seng Index has surged 21.1 per cent since the start of September, surpassing the threshold which market observers use to define a bull market. Locally-listed companies have capitalised on the late-year rally to sell shares at recent highs.

China Yurun Food Group announced on Thursday that it intended to raise HK$1.4 billion through a share placement and would use the proceeds to expand its capital position and production capacity.

Shares of the Nanjing-based meat product manufacturer have surged 35.7 per cent so far this year to HK$31.20, even after tumbling 6.8 per cent on Thursday.

Hang Lung Properties had climbed 31.7 per cent this year by Thursday before sliding 6.5 per cent to HK$37.70 yesterday after announcing its share placement. Its controlling shareholder notched the placing price at HK$37.48 per share.

In a share placement plan, a company usually issues new stock and sells it to a small number of professional investors and institutions at a discounted price with the provision that they hold it for a specified amount of time. This differs from a rights issue, in which a company will issue new stock that is available to all of its shareholders in proportion to their positions in the company.

China Construction Bank announced plans earlier this week to raise 61.6 billion yuan (HK$71.52 billion) through a rights offering in the mainland and Hong Kong.

The spree of fund-raising plans raises concern that some companies may simply be raising capital because they can. 'A lot of companies are probably trying to raise money now opportunistically,' Marnick said. 'It may not be for growth.'