Chinese automaker Great Wall Motor Co is considering resurrecting plans for a domestic A-share initial public offering as China's stock and auto markets have rebounded strongly, company executives said on Tuesday.
A lengthening queue of firms is jostling to list on mainland exchanges after China resumed IPOs last month following a 10-month suspension, aiming to tap strong investor interest in shares while ample market liquidity has lifted the benchmark stock index .SSEC nearly 90 percent far this year.
We are revisiting the possibility of an A-share listing but no final decision has been made yet, said a Great Wall Motor executive with direct knowledge of the matter.
Another senior executive confirmed that a team had been set up to consider whether or not to proceed with a Shanghai IPO, which was put on hold last year due in part to a steep slump in mainland China's stock markets.
Great Wall Motor, the largest Chinese sport utility vehicle (SUV) maker without a foreign partner, unveiled a plan in October 2007 to issue up to 121.7 million A shares in Shanghai.
That offering would be valued at as much as HK$1.08 billion ($139.4 million) based on the value of the company's Hong Kong-listed shares on Tuesday, although mainland shares typically trade at a hefty premium to their Hong Kong counterparts.
The executives did not say how much the offering might aim to raise, although one said it could be different from the previous plan.
Both executives declined to be named because of the sensitivity of the issue.
Car sales in China, the world's largest auto market, have recovered strongly since March after slowing to single-digit growth rates in 2008 for the first time in a decade as the global financial crisis struck home.
Beijing gave sales a jump-start with a series of policy initiatives, including subsidies for buyers in rural areas and a halving of the sales tax on small cars with engines of 1.6 litres or less.
Great Wall Motor, which unlike most big Chinese automakers is not state-owned, expects to double its vehicle sales this year, exceeding a previous 70 percent growth target, the second company executive said.
The SUV and pickup truck maker, which is diversifying into car production, sold 91,000 vehicles from January to June and had targeted sales of 200,000 units for the full year.
We think we can do better than that now. We hope we can exceed our target and double our sales for 2009, he said.
Great Wall is aiming for a 50 percent increase in vehicle sales for 2010 despite challenges facing its vehicle exports, which plunged 48 percent to fewer than 20,000 units in the first six months of this year, he added.
He expected the decline to extend into the first half of 2010 as a sharp industry downturn continues to dent automobile demand overseas.
Hit by a faltering economy, General Motors [GM.UL] and Ford Motor are seeking buyers for some of their assets, attracting potential Chinese buyers, including Beijing Automotive Industry Holding Corp and Geely Automobile Holdings, executives and sources familiar with discussions have said.
Little-known Chinese machinery maker Sichuan Tengzhong Heavy Industrial Machinery in June struck a tentative deal to take over GM's Hummer brand.
But the second Great Wall Motor executive reiterated the firm's stance that it had no intention of buying U.S. auto assets.
We are still a young company. Overseas acquisitions of such a scale would be difficult for us currently. We are not heading in that direction, the executive said.
($1=7.749 Hong Kong Dollar)
(Reporting by Fang Yan and Edmund Klamann)