China Construction Bank (CCB) yesterday filed a preliminary application with the Hong Kong stock exchange for what is likely to be the second-biggest international public offering by a mainland company in history, market sources said yesterday. The Beijing-based lender, the mainland's third-largest commercial bank by assets, is understood to be selling 15 per cent of its shares to raise about US$5 billion before listing on the Hong Kong exchange later this year. Among mainland firms' international share sales, only the US$5.25 billion offering by telecommunications carrier China Unicom in 2000 raised more money, according to Reuters. Moreover, CCB's share sale would be the first public offering by one of the Big Four state banks, which together control almost 54 per cent of the country's 32.88 trillion yuan in banking assets. It would mark a triumph for those who have argued for subjecting the inefficient and scandal-hit behemoths to market discipline. Concerns about the banks' rush to complete stock-market listings as prestige projects while ignoring the more fundamental task of a genuine corporate governance and operational overhaul were heightened by a string of industry scandals earlier this year. Among those was the resignation of then CCB chairman Zhang Enzhao in March amid corruption investigations. Last month, CCB's Hunan provincial branch head resigned after an employee fled with 15.8 million yuan of embezzled money, Beijing News reported last week. Eager to assuage market concern about its governance and risk management, CCB said in a statement yesterday that it had foiled 57 fraud cases worth 86.3 million yuan in the first five months this year. CCB's regulatory filing yesterday came on the heels of an agreement signed last Friday to sell a stake of about 9 per cent to Bank of America for US$3 billion, a development BNP Paribas Peregrine analyst Dorris Chen Huanming said would bolster investor confidence in CCB's forthcoming offer. China's fifth-largest commercial lender, Bank of Communications, which used HSBC Holdings' acquisition of a 19.9 per cent interest in it last year as a key selling point, saw heavy subscription of the retail tranche of its $14.6 billion offer earlier this month. Barclays Capital analyst Arthur Lau Chu-ming warned investor reaction to the CCB-Bank of America Corp tie-up would be less dramatic since the ownership was smaller and the US bank's involvement in CCB's operations would be more limited.