Eight start-up firms due to list on the mainland's Nasdaq-style second board have set their prices sky high amid strong buying interest, in a move that will more than triple the funds they are targeting to raise in initial public offerings. The companies that will offer shares to the general public today say they expect to net a combined 5.8 billion yuan (HK$6.59 billion), compared with a total of 1.65 billion yuan they originally targeted. On average, the offer prices are 88.6 times the companies' 2008 earnings per share. The small firms started price consultations on December 29 and the offerings proved easy to market as institutional investors showed keen interest in subscribing to the shares. 'The [offer] prices were set higher and higher, but risks increase too,' said Essence Securities analyst Liu Jun. 'At the end of the day, investors will find not all of them are worth prices that high.' Among the eight firms, Dingli Communications will float 14 million shares at 88 yuan each, the highest price among stocks listed on the so-called ChiNext market or due to list on the start-up board. It is likely to raise 1.23 billion yuan, nearly six times the targeted proceeds. Analysts expect the offerings to be oversubscribed as mainland investors are used to flocking to new shares to chase returns. Since Beijing lifted an unofficial ban on new listings in May last year, all newly listed stocks gained on their first trading day. On October 30, when the growth market officially opened, the first batch of 28 debutants rose at least 76 per cent above their offer prices. As of yesterday, the 36 firms listed on the second board traded at an average of 104.2 times 2008 earnings. The brisk share sales called regulators to action. They were worried the firms would use the extra funds to speculate on equities and properties. The Shenzhen Stock Exchange has required all companies listed on ChiNext to disclose how they will use the extra proceeds within six months. It was the first time the mainland regulators drew up a specific rule governing the use of extra proceeds from initial offerings. More than 10 million retail investors now trade stocks on ChiNext.