Hong Kong-listed China Southern Airlines has denied reports that it received preliminary approval from mainland securities regulators to issue one million new shares to domestic investors in China's A-share market. The Guangzhou-based airline, China's largest domestic carrier, told investment analysts yesterday that the China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC) had not yet approved its listing application and was not expected to do so before the end of this year. 'The company told me yesterday afternoon that the reports were untrue. They're also saying that it looks unlikely that they would receive final approval from the CSRC within this year,' an analyst at Nomura Securities said. A report from Reuters, quoting unnamed sources, said the CSRC's Initial Public Offering (IPO) approval committee had given the listing proposal a tentative green light as early as October, although it had still not been sent a formal approval notice. But the sources acknowledged that it was uncertain whether China Southern's domestic listing could proceed before the end of the year, given the difficult conditions in the A-share market. The report also said the issue price and size of the offer had not been fixed, although China Southern president Wang Changshun said in September that the company hoped to raise four billion yuan (HK$3.77 billion) to five billion yuan to buy aircraft. China Southern company secretary Su Liang did not return calls yesterday. The analyst said China Southern would be hard-pressed to push forward with an IPO by the end of the year even if it had received authorisation to do so. 'The airline has said the IPO timetable depends on the A-share market conditions. But realistically, it would be rushed if it had to do a listing by the end of the year given that there is only one month remaining,' he said. It would be more reasonable to expect the A-share listing to be completed during the first half of next year, he said. The A-share offer would raise cash for the carrier to acquire more than 20 aircraft to be delivered between the second half of this year and 2005 and help pay for its ongoing consolidation with China Northern and Xinjiang Airlines. But while China Southern's gearing is at the high end of the range for large Asian carriers, the present low interest rate environment means there may be little pressure on the airline to lower its debt by selling shares. In June, the Bank of China's aircraft financing and airline capital management products extended a 12 billion yuan credit line to China Southern Airlines that is believed to be still largely untapped.