When it comes to initial public offerings (IPO), it seems size does not matter. Of the recent offers coming to market, some institutional investors said they preferred mainland carmaker Great Wall Automobile Holding and gold miner Fujian Zijin Mining Industry to this year's gargantuan IPO, China Life Insurance. The rationale: the smaller issues will be easier to move in the market, while it will take a great deal of buying for a large company such as China Life to make significant gains. 'The mammoth size of China Life could limit the debut gain for the shares,' one fund manager said. 'The smaller size of Great Wall and Fujian Zijin would create more trading opportunities at the debut.' The fund manager said he planned to allocate more of his investment to the Great Wall and Fujian Zijin issues. China Life will list on the main board on December 18, Great Wall on December 15 and Fujian Zijin on December 19. Clawback arrangements could also determine which shares fund managers eventually wind up with. In an IPO, if the retail tranche is oversubscribed by a specified level, additional shares are clawed back from the institutional tranche and reallocated to the retail tranche to satisfy the excess demand. The bookrunner usually dumps the applications of small and less well-known institutional investors, according to Stella Lau of East Asia Asset Management. 'Sometimes fund managers will get nothing from the placement,' she said. 'To play safe, some fund managers [if allowed by the fund's mandates] will apply for the public offer ... at least you will get something no matter how much the retail tranche is oversubscribed.' On the other hand, fund managers can also buy in the open market after the shares debut, as retail investors looking for short-term gains unload their holdings, she added. This additional demand from institutional investors would drive up the share price on their debut. But for China Life, this might not be the case as fund managers should be able to get most of the shares they need. This is because the insurer has capped its retail tranche at 20 per cent of the total shares on offer. Still, China Life's retail tranche is not expected to be oversubscribed by much because of the offer's enormous size. The size of China Life's public offer, set at 5 per cent of the total offer, before the clawback already exceeds those of Great Wall and Fujian Zijin, even assuming shares are clawed back. While some prefer small issues, size still matters for other investors. 'Institutional investors still have to participate [in the China Life offer] to at least get an exposure for benchmarking [purposes],' one trader said. The sheer size of the insurer's market capitalisation made its inclusion in global indices likely, the trader said.