Investors bring down network in rush for shares

AN avalanche of orders for new A shares jammed the Shanghai stock exchange's national electronic trading network and triggered a suspension of trading minutes after it opened yesterday.

The highly sought-after A shares were issued by the Tianjin Bohai Chemical Industry (Group) Co.

The marine chemical manufacturer intends to raise net proceeds of 160 million yuan (about HK$148.96 million) through a sale of 68.98 million shares to the public.

Brokers said investors rushed in orders for more than 70 million shares within a second of opening through trading stations linked to the exchange's electronic network.

The flurry of activity caused a computer breakdown, forcing the exchange to suspend trading at 10.28 am, 13 minutes after it opened.

Shanghai Finance Securities general manager Zhao Yelong said: 'We've never seen such a response to new A shares for a long time.

'The reasons for the popularity are many.' Analysts said the issue was attractive because it was relatively small, the issue price of 2.5 yuan was cheap, the share allocation method more efficient, and it was the first to hit the market in a long time.

The issue was being underwritten by China Guotai Securities.

In a joint statement yesterday, the exchange and China Guotai said subscription for the issue would resume today from 1 pm to 4.45 pm.

'All subscriptions made by 10.28 am [yesterday] will be considered valid,' they said.

'Applications made after that time must be registered again today.' Brokers would be able to continue applying for the shares on their clients' behalf today.

Share allocations were to be announced by the exchange after all subscriptions were received.

Unlike in previous share allocations, Tianjin Bohai adopted an allocation system based on a ratio of shares to be given to each subscriber.

If there were 689,800 subscribers, for example, each subscriber would get 100 shares.

If the number of subscribers was below 689,800, then shares would be allotted on the basis of a base number and a ratio.

If there were more than 689,800 subscribers, shares would be allotted on a first come, first served basis.

One analyst said: 'After the closure of the treasury bond futures market, investors are dying for new investment opportunities.

'The Tianjin Bohai shares, at 2.5 yuan, are cheap and have strong upward potential.' Unofficial estimates put the amount of 'hot money' waiting for good investment opportunities at 400 billion yuan.

Unlike most previous A share issues with prices set by a bidding system, the marine chemical manufacturer chose to fix an issue price of 2.5 yuan.

'Tianjin Bohai apparently chose this method because it was unsure how investors would react to its issue,' the analyst said.

'Had it allotted the shares through competitive bidding, it would probably get a better price and higher proceeds.' The A-share issue price was much higher than that set for its H-share listing in Hong Kong about a year ago.

The company issued 340 million H shares at $1.20 each, raising a total of $408 million.

Analysts said the response to Tianjin Bohai's A-share issue would augur well for the 5.5 billion shares which would come onto the market this year and next.

The Shanghai Composite Index closed 0.3 per cent lower at 646.64 points yesterday.

Trading resumed in the afternoon after the breakdown was sorted out.