Bank of China (BOC) has delayed its plan to list in New York and intends to launch a US$2-billion share offer in Hong Kong as early as the third quarter, according to sources close to the proposed listing. Previous reports said the bank had originally planned to raise US$4 billion to US$5 billion in a dual Hong Kong-New York listing. The sources yesterday said BOC (HK) was considering raising just US$2 billion later this year. The New York listing had been temporarily shelved, leaving only Hong Kong institutional and retail tranches. The sources said the change of auditors by BOC (HK) from Arthur Andersen to PricewaterhouseCoopers 'and all the other hiccups' had affected the progress of the US listing. The change was aimed at speeding up the listing plan, contrary to market concerns that it might have experienced tighter scrutiny over its New York listing application, the sources said. Its New York listing plan suffered a blow last month after reports of a loan scandal involving BOC's mainland parent, and the payment of a US$20 million fine because of irregularities at the bank's New York branch. The sources said the BOC had hoped the listing might happen last year but unfavourable factors meant it was unlikely to happen until next year, if the dual-listing plans remained. 'If we de-couple the two listings, we can do the Hong Kong listing much faster since less work is involved. Hypothetically, if the dual-listing takes 100 hours of preparatory work, the New York portion would take up 70 hours and the HK portion 30 hours.' The comments contrasted with statements from the bank. BOC president Liu Mingkang earlier revealed details of the loan scandal involving the theft of at least US$483 million between 1993 and 2000 but said that despite these problems the bank had not ruled out the United States listing plans. Rumours of such a Hong Kong-only listing arose last month and have resurfaced but BOC officials yesterday said no timetable had been set. Analysts were scornful about the persistent rumours. One said: 'I would attach as much credibility to the stories as I have to all the others. It would make no sense at all.' They speculated the rumour might have been deliberately resurrected to gauge reaction to a proposal to delink the listings in order to push ahead with a partial listing this year. The sources defended the plan by saying a successful SAR listing would help establish BOC as a professionally managed, transparent company with Hong Kong and international investors, and a New York listing could follow. Fund managers voiced concerns over the impact of a change in the listing plan. A chief investment officer at a North American fund management house said the scale-back would inevitably have a negative impact on BOC listing. His main concern as a potential investor was the uncertainty such a listing plan would create and what future fund-raising BOC would need to do after raising an initial US$2 billion in Hong Kong. 'My worry is how BOC will raise the remaining US$2 billion to US$3 billion it is supposed to be raising and what impact the scale-back will have on its business development.' The sources said by speeding up the listing, BOC would reach its banking reform milestone earlier and enhance its competitive position against foreign banks.