* Shares likely to be priced in HK$20.28-HK$24.80 range
* Huatai gets commitments of $1.9 bln from 13 investors (Adds cornerstone investors, share performance, financial services issuance)
May 15 (Reuters) - Huatai Securities Co Ltd, China’s largest stock brokerage, plans to raise up to $4.5 billion in a Hong Kong share offering, tapping equity markets to help grow its margin finance and lending businesses, IFR reported on Friday, citing sources familiar with the plans.
The Shanghai-listed company will offer about 1.4 billion new shares in an indicative price range of HK$20.68 to HK$24.80 per share, valuing the deal at up to HK$34.7 billion ($4.48 billion), added IFR, a Thomson Reuters publication.
The state-owned brokerage didn’t reply to a Reuters e-mailed request for comment on the share-sale plans.
Huatai Securities, also called HTSC, received commitments worth $1.9 billion from 13 so-called cornerstones investors for the IPO, helping secure demand for the deal ahead of its launch, IFR added.
The Hang Seng China H-Financials index has rallied about 59 percent in the past year as brokerages soared after trading volumes surged in mainland China’s equities markets following the launch of the Hong Kong-Shanghai connect.
Shares of Huatai Securities have more than tripled over the past year and closed on Friday at 27.10 yuan, putting the price for the Hong Kong offering at a discount of as much as 39 percent to the closing price in Shanghai.
The price range represents a 2015 price-to-book ratio of 1.66 to 1.87 times, IFR added.
Huatai Securities will join a group of Chinese banks, brokerages and insurers planning to raise at least $30 billion in new funds through equity offerings in the next few months in Hong Kong, making 2015 the busiest year for the financial services sector since 2010.
The deal is set to be priced on May 22.
The brokerage hired its Huatai Financial Holdings (Hong Kong) Ltd unit, JPMorgan and UBS as sponsors for the offering, according to a securities filing. ($1 = 7.7514 Hong Kong dollars) (Reporting by Fiona Lau of IFR; Writing by Elzio Barreto; Editing by Prateek Chatterjee)