China International Travel Service Corporation Limited got approval from the China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC) for an initial public offering (IPO) on the Shanghai Stock Exchange, the securities regulator said on Monday.

The company will sell up to 220 million shares to raise about 1.7 billion yuan ($248.9 million) for expansion of travel network and duty free shops, according to its prospectus.

The securities regulator lifted a nine-month ban on initial public offerings, or IPOs, by approving the listing of a medium-sized drug firm a month ago.

The lifting of the IPO ban is not surprising as facilitating the raising of capital by enterprises is the primary function of the stock market,, said Zhao Xijun, a professor of finance at Renmin University of China he said.

Stockbrokers and investors generally welcomed the IPO resumption, saying it would allow the stock exchange to regain its basic function of providing capital to fund the growth of the corporate sector.

Before the IPO, the China International Travel Service Group, the parent company, held 84.62% stake and the Shenzhen Overseas Chinese Town Holding Co held the other 15.38%.

After the IPO, the China International Travel Service Group will hold at least 61.35% of the listing vehicle.

Net profits of the company in 2008 totaled 221.23 million yuan, up 2% compared with that of 217 million yuan in 2007.