BANK of East Asia, one of the largest local banks, is pursuing a secondary listing in Shanghai which would make it the first listing there by a Hong Kong-based company and perhaps worldwide. ''We are eager to be the first Chinese-owned company and the first bank to have a listing in Shanghai. Our primary listing will still be in Hong Kong,'' said chief executive David Li Kwok-po at the bank's 75th anniversary reception. Having heard that Germany's biggest industrial firm, Daimler-Benz, was planning a similar listing in the city, Mr Li said: ''If Bank of East Asia cannot be the first, at least we will both have the listing status at the same time.'' Bank of East Asia opened its first branch in Shanghai in 1920 and the branch has operated continuously since. Mr Li said the bank had put a lot of effort into realising the listing plan, but no details could be released. ''I am not sure if I should talk to the stock exchange here first,'' Mr Li said. The German company was reported to have received the go-ahead to have its shares directly traded in Shanghai. But no official confirmation from the Chinese side has been published. Chinese officials admitted that some technical difficulties had to be overcome before allowing foreign companies to list in Shanghai, such as foreign exchange and legal monitors. ''The exchange said it was still exploring how to make it possible for foreign firms to seek a listing there. And we want to be the first,'' Mr Li said. Mr Li said he did not know whether the bank would succeed in its bid to buy United Chinese Bank. ''Discussions are still going on,'' he said. After a newspaper report attributed the bank's recent share price increase to the impending success of its bid for the 17-branch UCB, the bank made a clarifying announcement yesterday. ''The Bank of East Asia confirms that it is in negotiation with the trustees of the S.K. Yee Medical Foundation, the majority shareholder of UCB, through Jardine Fleming, the financial adviser to the foundation, in respect of the possible acquisition of a major shareholding in the United Chinese Bank,'' it said. ''No final agreement has yet been reached nor have any documents of whatsoever nature been executed,'' it said. The announcement said the outcome of the negotiations might or might not result in a general offer for shares in UCB. Bank of East Asia's share price jumped from Friday's close of $53 to $59 yesterday, an increase of 11.3 per cent. Jardine Fleming managing director Alan Smith said negotiations were still going on and no further information could be revealed. at this stage. He said UCB had initially attracted quite a lot of interest. ''It is not common for a bank with a network to become available for sale nowadays. That is what makes UCB an interesting bank,'' he said.