Tai-I International, which is seeking to raise up to HK$249 million in the first initial public offering in Hong Kong this year, is looking to continue the run of successful share sales that set new highs last year. The retail portion of the offering was at least 15 times oversubscribed when it closed at noon yesterday, people close to the deal said. The institutional portion, which accounted for 90 per cent of the deal, was nine times oversubscribed, the sources said. Tai-I, China's third-largest manufacturer of bare copper wire, was offering 150 million new shares or 25 per cent of its enlarged share capital at HK$1.38 to HK$1.66 each, or 10.5 to 12.7 times its forecast earnings this year. Tai-I will probably price its share at the high end of the indicative range, sources said. Trading of the stock will start on January 11. Polaris Capital and Daiwa Securities SMBC are the joint bookrunners. Tai-I's sale follows a record-breaking year for IPO funding in the city. Led by the mega-offerings by Industrial and Commercial Bank of China and Bank of China, 64 companies raised HK$342 billion, 79 per cent more than the HK$191.5 billion generated in 2005. Global accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers expects the Hong Kong IPO market to remain robust this year although total funds raised may drop 56 per cent to HK$150 billion in the absence of huge deals. Following Tai-I, other first-quarter offerings are likely to include China's largest glutamic acid producer Fufeng Group, mainland property developers Honglong Property and Country Garden Holdings, China Agri Group, the spin-off of Cofco International, and drugmaker Wuyi Pharmaceutical, market sources said. Outside the mainland, banks in South America, including some that had already listed in their domestic market or in the United States, are also interested in a secondary listing in Hong Kong to expand their investor base in Asia, said Margaret Lee Man-yuen, managing director and regional head of financial institutions business at Standard Chartered Bank (Hong Kong). She said there could be at least one South American bank listed here this year. 'We have introduced two [South American] banks to seek more information from the Hong Kong stock exchange,' Ms Lee said. Many South American countries, such as Brazil and Chile, are commodity producers that have large trade flows with the mainland.