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ICBC raises $19 billion in IPO

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KAI RYSSDAL: The world’s hot stock today comes out of China. The Industrial and Commercial Bank of China has raised $19 billion in its initial public offering. That makes it far and away the world’s biggest IPO. And maybe the world’s riskiest. Ashley Milne-Tyte has our story from New York.

ASHLEY MILNE-TYTE: What better way to buy into China’s economic future than through a bank? But Donald Straszheim of Roth Capital Partners says this is no ordinary bank. Chinese banks, he says, are still lending arms of the government, their main customers state-owned enterprises.

DONALD STRASZHEIM:“So investors in this kind of a deal are making a bet that this bank will in fact become a real bank with real credit standards like we’re accustomed to in the West.”

That will take some time, he says.

Barry Naughton, a Chinese economy expert at the UC San Diego, says just three years ago 25 percent of the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China’s loans were bad. Still, he says, there’s reason for investor optimism.

BARRY NAUGHTON:“The Chinese government has committed a tremendous amount of money and other kinds of human resources to the banks, there are new foreign partners who are coming in with new technologies.”

And new kinds of non-lending income from things like banking fees and credit cards. So, he says buying into the bank is a reasonable gamble, but it’s still risky.

In New York, I’m Ashley Milne-Tyte for Marketplace.

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