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SHANGHAI, April 17 (Reuters) - The online news portal of Chinese state-owned newspaper People's Daily will raise up to 1.55 billion yuan ($245.45 million) in its Shanghai initial public offering, almost triple its fundraising target, reflecting investor enthusiasm toward government-backed media despite a sluggish market.
The website People.cn will sell 69.1 million shares at 20.00-22.50 yuan apiece, enabling it to raise 1.38 billion-1.55 billion yuan, the company said in an exchange filing on Tuesday.
People.cn said earlier said it aimed to raise about 527 million yuan to fund expansion in order to better compete with new media giants Sina Corp and Sohu.com Inc, and for working capital.
The price range, which represents 34.60-38.92 times the company's earnings per share, is a sign of strong investor demand and bodes well for other upcoming state-controlled media IPOs.
Xinhuanet, the Internet portal of state news agency Xinhua, plans to raise 1 billion yuan through an IPO in Shanghai, as Beijing encourages government-owned media to go public in a bid to increase their clout in the Internet era.
People.cn, which is owned by the People's Daily, a Communist Party broadsheet with a history of more than 60 years, already counts state-owned telecommunications giants including China Mobile Ltd, China Unicom and China Telecom Corp Ltd as shareholders.
People.cn will set the final pricing for its IPO on April 20 and will use the proceeds to upgrade technology, deliver news on mobile platforms and strengthen its editorial team, it said.
China is the world's biggest Internet market by users. The news portals of Sina and Sohu, though censored, have a huge following online due to their offering of a large variety of news topics and more sensational presentation.
$1 = 6.3150 Chinese yuan Reporting by Samuel Shen and Gabriel Wildau; Editing by Jonathan Hopfner