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NetEase rally bodes well for speculators in Chinese mega deals

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NetEase jumped as much as 9.9 per cent in Hong Kong Thursday, on track to deliver the city's best trading debut in more than a year for companies with a fund raising size of more than US$1 billion.

[HONG KONG] One of Hong Kong's most popular investment strategies - borrow big and plough the money into a red-hot share sale - is starting to work, just as the city prepares to host a flurry of Chinese listings.

NetEase jumped as much as 9.9 per cent in Hong Kong Thursday, on track to deliver the city's best trading debut in more than a year for companies with a fund raising size of more than US$1 billion. The retail portion of its share sale was more than 130 times oversubscribed, as mom-and-pop traders clamoured to get a piece of the Chinese gaming company. JD.com's planned US$3.9 billion share sale, which would be the world's second-largest of the year, is also oversubscribed. China Bohai Bank Co is planning to launch its own US$2 billion offering.

Such listings are reviving interest in Hong Kong's market, boosting inflows and helping strengthen the local dollar at a time when the passing of a national security law has raised concerns about the city's status as a financial hub. Tensions between Washington and Beijing have threatened to curtail Chinese companies' access to US capital markets, making such secondary listings closer to home more appealing.

"Introducing another technology giant to Hong Kong is definitely good for market sentiment," said Banny Lam, managing director at CEB International Corp. "It will help Hong Kong to attract more longer-term investors and demand for future listings like JD.com will be boosted since the investment now looks very profitable."

Trading as high as HK$135.2 per share in Hong Kong at their highest intraday level, NetEase shares were valued at about a 3 per cent premium to those listed on the Nasdaq - which are near a record high. One US share is equivalent to 25 Hong Kong stocks. Alibaba Group Holding rose 6.6 per cent on its Hong Kong debut.

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The prospect of NetEase potentially joining the benchmark Hang Seng Index is also helping buoy investors' confidence, Mr Lam said. The company's market cap exceeds that of 39 firms on the 50-member gauge, including the likes of CNOOC and Sun Hung Kai Properties, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

The technology sector saw strong gains on Thursday. Shopping platform Meituan Dianping added 4.1 per cent to hit a record high, while Tencent Holdings rose to its highest since March 2018.

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