HK's investing public put up $175b for a piece of mainland insurer, sources say Insurer China Life's share offer was about 150 times oversubscribed by Hong Kong's investing public - who put up nearly $175 billion for a slice of the world's biggest IPO this year - sources said last night, citing preliminary figures. Global institutional investors subscribed for 10 times more than their share of the US$3 billion dual listing in Hong Kong and New York, the sources said. The four-day offer to retail investors closed at midday. As underwriters' staff counted the hundreds of thousands of application forms that need to be processed, sources close to the underwriters initially estimated the offer was 100 times oversubscribed but late last night raised their estimate to 150 times. The number of subscribers will not be known for several days. The result could rival this year's most oversubscribed initial public offering, Great Wall Automobile Holdings, a mainland carmaker, which locked up $110 billion of would-be investors' money. The portion of Great Wall's shares on offer to retail investors was 600 times oversubscribed. Given the response to the IPO, China Life was likely to price shares at the top of their indicative range, other sources said. The share price was being announced early today. Based on the high-end estimate of $3.51 per share, China Life will be priced at 1.64 times the company's forecast book value this year. Fellow mainland insurance giant PICC Property and Casualty came to the market last month at 1.26 times value. China Life already counts some of Hong Kong's biggest tycoons as its investors. They have taken up 18.1 per cent of the shares on offer. The strong demand for shares among the Hong Kong public will trigger a clawback mechanism under which underwriters double the 10 per cent of the shares allocated to retail investors. Initially they had been allocated only 5 per cent. Long queues have formed this week at bank branches - with would-be investors including many first-timers. All were eager for a slice of the mainland's dominant insurer, which has a 45 per cent market share. 'The response has been overwhelming,' said Douglas Chen, SHK Financial Group's head of corporate marketing. Clients had borrowed as much as 90 per cent of the funds needed to back their applications, and were willing to pay interest as high as 5 per cent, he said. Trading in China Life's shares will start on Wednesday in New York and a day later in Hong Kong.