People's Insurance Company of China (PICC), one of the mainland's largest insurers, has added an army of 14 investment banks to help sell its stocks in an initial public offering in Hong Kong, according to market sources. The state-owned insurer is seeking a dual listing in Hong Kong and Shanghai this year. It aims to raise US$3 billion in its H-share listing in Hong Kong, and more than 10 billion yuan (HK$12.2 billion) in its A-share offering in Shanghai. It would be the biggest IPO in Hong Kong this year and its A-share listing would be among the largest new-share offerings on the mainland so far this year. Credit Suisse, HSBC and China International Capital Corporation are the sponsors of the Hong Kong IPO, while at least 14 investment banks would be involved in book-running and underwriting. These banks include UBS, Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, and mainland investment banks like CCB International and BOC International. However, it remained unclear which of the 14 banks would be the global co-ordinators or the lead book-runners of the deal, said the sources. Market experts said such a broad share distribution network was not often seen in the market, but would make sense for PICC, as it had chosen to raise a large sum of money in a choppy environment. They also said it underlay the fierce competition among Chinese and Western investment banks in fighting for bigger fees and more prestigious positions in the deal. It is not uncommon for issuers to require underwriters to bring in institutional investors and commit their capital to buying unsold shares in order to ensure sufficient support for the listing to proceed. According to figures provided by Dealogic, equity capital market revenue in the Asia-Pacific-ex-Japan region dropped to US$1.11 billion so far this year, down more than half from US$2.27 billion same period last year. The volume of IPO listings also dropped. The region has so far seen 172 IPO deals raising US$12.2 billion, less than one-third of same period last year, where 286 IPO deals raised US$40.72 billion. Market sources also said PICC was also considering listing in Hong Kong first in order to allow it more flexibility in price setting. Under listing rules, H shares cannot be offered at a discount of more than 15 per cent on the A-share price. Haitong Securities, which is the biggest listing so far in Hong Kong this year, raised US$1.7 billion in April as its A-share performance in Shanghai recovered. It was forced to scrap its Hong Kong listing plan last year when share price hit a trough of 7.41 yuan in December. PICC is one of the last major insurers in China to list. Its competitors, China Pacific Insurance, New China Life Insurance, China Life and Ping An Insurance are listed in both the A-share and H-share markets. PICC plans to list in Hong Kong near the end of June, while its A-share listing timetable is unknown.