With Chekiang First Bank up for sale, investors are bidding up the shares of other candidates that are ripe for takeover Shares in Liu Chong Hing Bank soared 11.05 per cent yesterday as speculation mounted it may become the next banking takeover target as consolidation in the sector heats up. The counter rose by HK$1 to $10.05, with more than 6.6 million shares changing hands. Investors are betting that Liu Chong Hing Bank, the second-smallest locally listed bank by assets, could join Chekiang First Bank on the selling block. Last week Wing Hang Bank confirmed it was in the race to buy Chekiang, put up for sale by its sole owner, Japan's Mizuho Financial Holdings. 'Because of the talks between Chekiang First Bank and potential buyers, and market rumours that a few acquisitions will be completed very soon, speculation of another round of treasure hunting for small banks might have been triggered,' CLSA banking analyst Dominic Chan said. Mr Chan said investors could be putting their money on Liu Chong Hing Bank due to its comparable size to Chekiang First Bank. Liu Chong Hing had assets of US$5 billion as of last year while Chekiang had $3.6 billion. Yesterday's sharp jump in Liu Chong Hing Bank's share price came after a local newspaper said the mainland's Agricultural Bank of China had made an offer to buy the bank's shares from 45.1 per cent shareholder Liu Chong Hing Investment and Cosco Pacific, which owns 20 per cent. The report said Agricultural Bank of China had offered to buy the major shareholders' stakes at between HK$15 and $18 a share, compared with Liu Chong Hing Bank's book value of $12.70 per share last year. It added that a general offer would be made to all shareholders if the initial purchases were successful.