Chinese chipmaker plans biggest IPO in a decade

SHANGHAI (AFP) – China’s largest chipmaker, Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corporation (SMIC), is planning to raise as much as USD7.5 billion in a Shanghai stock listing that would be the country’s biggest in a decade.

Details of the planned offers were released in a statement filed yesterday on the website of the Shanghai exchange and sent the company’s Hong Kong-listed stock soaring more than 20 per cent to a record high.

The company said it would raise at least CNY46.3 billion, more than doubling an original target, after pricing its offer in the wake of a week-long jump in the value of the Hong Kong shares.

But SMIC said that if over-allotments are exercised, it could raise up to CNY53.2 billion (USD7.5 billion).

The offering would be the largest in mainland China since Agricultural Bank of China raised CNY68.5 billion in an initial public offering in 2010.

China has eased listing rules over the past couple of years to encourage more domestic share issues by big Chinese tech firms as Beijing challenges the United States (US) for global tech dominance.

The push is part of the Communist Party’s strategy to develop domestic champions into global leaders in artificial intelligence, big data, and other advanced sectors.

China previously lost the listings of Internet giants such as Alibaba and Baidu to Wall Street, but is looking to change that, especially as tensions with the US rise across all fronts, and as China’s own capital markets mature.

SMIC is China’s biggest contract manufacturer of chipsets and a key component of Beijing’s plans to someday achieve semiconductor self-reliance.

Analysts said China’s dependence on foreign – including US-made – chips hinders that national goal.

The issue has been brought into stark relief by the US campaign to hobble Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei, which Washington fears could allow China’s security state to tap into global telecoms networks.

The US Commerce Department in May announced plans to cut off Huawei’s access to global semiconductor supplies, which the company said would threaten its “survival”.