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Chinese Life IPO Raises Billions

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Ping An Insurance (Group) Company of China Ltd., an insurer with strong ties to HSBC Holdings P.L.C., has succeeded at selling 1.1 billion shares of stock with a value of about $5 billion through an initial public offering.

Ping An, Shenzhen, China, started out in 1988 as a property-casualty insurer and later added a life insurance operation. The life business now has more than 31 million customers.

Ping An ended up pricing its stock at the equivalent of $4.4 per share, or about 76 times earnings, the company says.

“This issue price is the highest among all the financial stocks in China and makes Ping An’s A-Share issuance the world’s largest IPO ever launched by an insurance company,” the company says.

Ping An earned the equivalent of about $540 million in net income on $5.7 billion in revenue during the first half of 2006.

Goldman Sachs Group Inc., New York, and Morgan Stanley & Company Inc., New York, bought a total of 14% of the Ping An in 1994.

HSBC bought a 10% stake in Ping An in 2002.

In the wake of the IPO, the “strategic investors” are getting 30% of Ping An’s stock, institutional investors are getting 20%, and individual investors and other investors who made offers through the Web are getting 50%.