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Huatai said to plan top pricing for $4.5 billion Hong Kong offer

[HONG KONG] Huatai Securities Co, China's fourth- biggest listed brokerage by revenue, is poised to raise US$4.5 billion from a first-time share sale in Hong Kong, people with knowledge of the matter said.

The Nanjing-based company plans to sell shares at HK$24.80 apiece, the top end of a marketed range that started at HK$20.68, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the information is private. The price represents a 35 per cent discount to Huatai's close of 30.40 yuan in Shanghai on Thursday.

Huatai joins Chinese brokers in raising funds to expand as a world-beating rally continues in the nation's stock market. China's average daily stock turnover surged 51 percent to 1.4 trillion yuan (US$231 billion) in April from the previous month, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

The company will stop taking orders and set a final price Friday in Hong Kong, its prospectus shows. An external spokesman for Huatai declined to comment. IFR reported Thursday in Hong Kong that Huatai was set to price the share sale at the top of the marketed range, citing unidentified people.

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Huatai attracted two Internet entrepreneurs as cornerstone investors for the share sale. Ma Huateng, the billionaire chairman of China's second-biggest Internet company Tencent Holdings Ltd, agreed to buy US$100 million stock, while news portal NetEase Inc and its founder William Ding committed US$200 million.

GF Securities Co, a Guangzhou-based brokerage, has jumped 36 per cent in Hong Kong since completing a US$4.1 billion share sale last month. Citic Securities, China's biggest brokerage, as well as Haitong Securities Co and China Galaxy Securities Co have announced plans to raise more than US$12 billion through Hong Kong share sales later this year, the Bloomberg-compiled data show.