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China's Agbank opens record share offer

The Agricultural Bank of China (ABC) opened a share offer worth a world-record 18.89 million euros on Wednesday. The aim of the operation is to raise funds to develop depressed regions in the rural heartland of China.

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Ag-Bank, as ABC is widely known, is the last of China's big four state banks to be listed on the stock market.

It plans to float its shares in Hong Kong and Shanghai next month.

Several important cornerstone investors have already shown interest. They include Qatar's sovereign wealth fund, US food giant Archer Daniels Midland and British bank Standard Chartered, which says it wants to invest over 400 million euros.

Smaller shareholders will also have the opportunity to buy into the bank.

AgBank chairman Xiang Junbo said yesterday that his company has been trying to cut its bad-debt load.

That has been a major concern for all of China's big banks after the state-sanctioned a lending binge during the global financial crunch.

The bank says it is now poised to capitalise on Chinese government efforts to boost economic growth in the country's centre and west.

AgBank was set up in 1951, two years after the communist revolution in China.

Last year it reported profits of 65 billion yuan (53 billion euros).

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