China XD Electric Co <601179.SS>, the nation's largest electricity transmission and distribution equipment maker, plans to raise as much as 10.27 billion yuan ($1.5 billion) in the country's first major initial public offering this year.
XD Electric, which is selling up to 1.3 billion shares in its Shanghai IPO, said it had fixed the price range for the share offer at 7.10 to 7.90 yuan. That compares with the 7.4 yuan-9.6 yuan range forecast by its underwriter, China International Capital Corp (CICC).
The pricing will give XD Electric a maximum price earnings (PE) ratio of 34.17 times its 2008 net profit per share on a fully diluted basis, it said in a statement to the Shanghai Stock Exchange published in official newspapers on Monday.
That would give XD Electric's offer a relatively low valuation, as China's lackluster stock market has recently weakened IPO share demand and less feverish debuts of new listings have forced companies to think twice before setting very expensive IPO prices.
Chinese firms typically set the PE of their IPOs at very high levels, often around 50 times their historical earnings, because new listings have traditionally attracted huge speculative interest in China's nascent stock market.
The debuts of two IPOs in Shanghai over the past month -- train maker China CNR Corp <601299.SS> and building firm China National Chemical Engineering <601117.SS> -- were weak, as the IPO pipeline has filled up and high valuations started raising eyebrows.
XD Electric, based in China's northern city of Xi'an, has previously said it needed 7.72 billion yuan in IPO proceeds for expansion and technical upgrading. It appointed CICC as the IPO's lead underwriter.
XD Electric will take subscriptions from institutions on Monday and retail investors on January 19. It will sell 40 percent of the IPO to institutions and the rest to retail investors.
The stock regulator has been adding huge new share supplies to help the government's campaign to clamp down on excessive asset prices since early December. Dozens of other firms, including China First Heavy Industries Co and Huatai Securities, have won regulatory approval and are now on the waiting list for an IPO.
The clampdown was partly sparked by a 27 percent jump in the key Shanghai Composite Index <.SSEC> in less than three months since early September and has effectively cooled trading.
(Additional reporting by Samuel Shen; Editing by Ken Wills)