Bank of China (BOC)
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Lai See

Ben Kwok

BOC rich pickings overshadowed by mystery investor's cheque for $1.9b

So, who was the biggest subscriber for Bank of China shares? One of the big property tycoons - Li Ka-shing, the Kwok brothers, Lee Shau-kee, Cheng Yu-tung, Peter Woo Kwong-ching, who all applied for the maximum $1.4 billion worth?

No, they were all trumped by a mystery investor who sent in a $1.91 billion cheque for 632.21 million shares. This was more than three times the total of the 209,350 people who applied for 1,000 shares each, according to the BOC allotment results released yesterday.

But, like many punters, our hero had to put up with the disappointment of a smaller allotment, only being awarded 12.84 million shares - about 2 per cent of the application amount - for around $37.8 million.

However, given that some pundits are tipping BOC to rise only 5 per cent at most when it makes its debut tomorrow, it looks like being a low return exercise, and a game definitely reserved for the mega rich.

Still, we are encouraged to note that there is no shortage of such folk in town, as demonstrated by the fact that 38 applied for 100 million shares, 11 for 200 million shares and one for 500 million shares in the world's biggest public offering for six years.

954,024 winks, but no sleep for banks

There must have been plenty of bleary-eyed bank employees around Central yesterday.

In order to publish the BOC share allotment results, the bank had set a 3am deadline for the production of the 200-page list of identity numbers of the 954,024 successful offering subscribers. However, it wasn't submitted until 6am, which had officials from the Hong Kong Exchange and Clearing making nervous early morning calls to senior bankers at BOC, UBS and Goldman Sachs to check on the progress.

Fortunately, the three-hour delay made little difference as the list was available at all the relevant banks and offices before they opened. And we are also pleased to report that the online list checking service also seemed to go smoothly all day.

'one media, two representatives'

With BOC's Hong Kong stock exchange debut expected to take centre stage in the eyes of the world's business media tomorrow, it was no surprise to hear that the bank had imposed a 'one media, two representatives' restriction on the local press.

An invitation from BOC (Beijing) on newsdesks yesterday told Hong Kong publications that they could only send a reporter and a photographer to cover the listing ceremony.

The bank is obviously expecting many mainland and international media representatives to join the scrum in the exchange trading hall.

'But please come to join us if you like,' Lai See was told by a BOC representative after making inquiries about relaxing the quota.

Luckily, one country, two systems always applies.

everyone gets a share in HK

As BOC is in the process of refunding around $260 billion of subscription cash, it is nice to see its subsidiary - BOC Hong Kong - come up with an interesting offer for those people who didn't get all the shares they wanted.

Yesterday, the bank offered a special one-month to three-month fixed deposit for the refunded cheques with an additional 0.8 per cent bonus rate per annum in seven major currencies, including Hong Kong dollars.

It's called keeping it in the 'family'.

hsbc: victim of its own CFP success

Still on banking, we seldom hear complaints from HSBC, but the lender has been grumbling lately about the lack of talent in Hong Kong. We hear the bank has been struggling to fill 100 vacancies for chartered financial planners and customer service representatives. However, it may be a victim of its own success, having trained many CFP's only to see them join other banks hoping for a slice of the wealth management market.