HSBC investors bought 96.6 percent of the shares offered in its record 12.9 billion pound ($18.9 billion) rights issue, Europe's biggest bank said on Sunday.

HSBC <0005.HK> said it had sold 4.89 billion shares with existing shareholders and expects to sell the 172.7 million shares not taken up -- or the rump -- on Monday, to raise 12.5 billion pounds net of expenses. The rump is likely to be placed early on Monday.

Strong take-up had been expected, and people familiar with the matter told Reuters on Friday demand would be at least 90 percent.

Demand in Hong Kong -- where HSBC is revered and known among investors as big elephant -- was 98.2 percent.

The fundraising will help HSBC weather losses in its troubled U.S. business and to restore its capital advantage over rivals after an extended global financial crisis. It will boost its ability to grab profitable business from banks in trouble and help it pursue bolt-on acquisitions in Asia and other emerging markets.

We remain confident that HSBC is well-placed in today's environment and that our strength leads to opportunity, HSBC Chairman Stephen Green said in a statement.

HSBC has been considering bidding for the Asian assets of Royal Bank of Scotland , sources have said.

The new shares were offered at a price of 254 pence. On Friday the shares closed at 434.5p, down 5.3 percent, but they held relatively stable during a cashcall period that was smoother than those held by many banks over the past year.

HSBC said the cashcall will strengthen its capital ratio by about 150 basis points, lifting its core equity tier 1 ratio to about 8.5 percent and its tier 1 ratio to 9.8 percent.

The 5-for-12 shares offer was underwritten by Goldman Sachs , JPMorgan Cazenove, HSBC and three other co-bookrunners.

Advisers will get a base fee of 2.75 percent, worth about 350 million pounds, and are in line for a success fee of another 0.5 percent, worth 64 million pounds.

($1=.6820 pounds)

(Editing by Mike Nesbit)