[HONG KONG] Postal Savings Bank of China Co., which has the most outlets of any Chinese lender, plans to raise at least US$1 billion from investors before a planned initial public offering, people with knowledge of the matter said.
The lending arm of state-owned China Post Group Co aims to sell the stake this year, said the people, who asked not to be named as the deliberations are private. Investment banks are pitching for roles on the pre-IPO share sale and the exact size of the deal hasn't been determined yet, the people said.
Postal Savings Bank is bringing in outside investors as President Xi Jinping seeks to introduce more market discipline to state-owned enterprises. The lender, with nearly 40,000 outlets nationwide and more than 470 million retail customers, is boosting its capital strength as part of a government mandate to focus on lending to rural areas and small businesses.
The bank plans to seek more than US$4 billion selling shares in Hong Kong and Shanghai, people with knowledge of the matter said in June. Its Hong Kong IPO could start as soon as the fourth quarter, with the Shanghai portion to follow later, the people said.
Postal Savings Bank had 5.57 trillion yuan (US$891 billion) of assets at the end of 2013, making it the country's sixth- largest lender by that measure. Calls to the bank's general office seeking comment weren't answered.