Agricultural Bank of China's A shares rose a scant 0.75 per cent in Shanghai yesterday in a lacklustre debut that could overshadow its H-share performance when trading starts in Hong Kong today. The stock closed at 2.70 yuan (HK$3.09), 0.02 yuan higher than the initial public offering price of 2.68 yuan. The first-day gain was lower than expected as analysts predicted the A shares could gain more than 5 per cent on debut. The closing price represented a 3.3 per cent discount to ABC's H shares, which were sold at HK$3.20 each. ABC's first-day gain on the Shanghai Stock Exchange was the smallest among the mainland's Big Four lenders. However, its president, Zhang Yun, said management was satisfied with the price 'because it reflected investors' confidence in the bank's long-term outlook'. ABC raised US$19.2 billion in its Hong Kong-Shanghai dual listing. It could surpass Industrial and Commercial Bank of China as the world's largest IPO if the 15 per cent over-allotment is exercised, raising a combined US$22.1 billion. The bank said yesterday that the retail tranche of 1.27 billion H shares was 5.87 times oversubscribed. ABC chairman Xiang Junbo said the listing of the worst-performing lender among the Big Four was a significant achievement by Beijing in its efforts to reform the banking sector. 'Today is another day that the whole world will mark as a special day,' Xiang said at the listing ceremony yesterday. 'The listing is another major achievement in China's banking industry.' Beijing got a cold shoulder from overseas institutions, which were baulking at the lofty price ABC planned to offer in Hong Kong. However, Xiang was determined to push ahead with the fund-raising plan, turning down proposals to delay the IPO amid the weak markets. ABC drew a clutch of international cornerstone investors in Hong Kong including Standard Chartered Bank and Qatar's sovereign wealth fund. The retail tranche accounted for only 5 per cent of the 25.4 billion shares for the Hong Kong part of the IPO. Mainland banks are under pressure to replenish capital after they extended a record 9.6 trillion yuan loans last year, nearly double the minimum target of 5 trillion yuan set by the central government. ABC was saddled with bad loans before a government bailout in 2008. Its non-performing loan ratio stood at 23.5 per cent at the end of 2007. In 2008, Central Huijin Investment, an arm of China's sovereign wealth fund, injected US$19 billion into the lender before it hived off 800 billion yuan of bad loans. 'It is reasonable that [ABC] should be cheaper than its other big rivals,' Shenyin Wanguo Securities analyst Li Yamin said. 'But whether it will fall below the IPO price hinges on the market sentiment.' The Shanghai Composite Index slid 1.87 per cent yesterday to 2,424.3 points, 26 per cent off its close last year.