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HSBC rights issue popular

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

HSBC 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" - today, to raise 12.5 billion pounds net of expenses. The rump is likely to be placed early today.

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

The fundraising exercise will help HSBC weather losses in its troubled United States 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.

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


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