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DALIAN, China (Reuters) - China Bohai Bank Co [BOHAI.UL], one of the country's 12 national joint-stock banks, is preparing for an initial public offering (IPO), Chairman Li Fuan said on Tuesday at the World Economic Forum in the northeastern city of Dalian.
By going for a market listing, Bohai Bank will join a growing number of mainland mid-tier banks that have raised billions of dollars on the country's stock markets. They include the larger joint-stock banks China Merchants Bank (600036.SS)(3968.HK) and China Minsheng Banking Corp (600016.SS)(1988.HK).
Li, previously a senior official at China' banking regulator, said the bank was looking for foreign investors for the listing. Standard Chartered Bank (Hong Kong) Ltd (STAN.L) is currently its second-biggest shareholder, with a 19.99 percent stake.
The maximum equity stake in a Chinese bank that foreign institutions may own is currently capped at 20 percent for a single foreign investor and 25 percent for all foreign investors.
"Bohai Bank is going public and we will further open up to global investors," Li said at the Forum. He did not specify where the bank intended to list its shares.
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said at the Forum on Tuesday that Beijing would give foreign investors greater market access to services and industrial sectors as well as treat foreign and domestic firms equally.
"I hope what Premier Li Keqiang said this morning about relaxing restrictions on investment percentages held by foreign firms will further open-up Bohai Bank during its listing process," Li said.
The IPO could take place in the first half of 2018 and the bank is currently boosting capital internally, some domestic media outlets reported, citing Li speaking on the sidelines of the Forum.
Bohai Bank, headquartered in Tianjin, was the first Chinese-funded commercial bank to introduce overseas strategic investors at the establishment stage, according to its website.
Besides Standard Chartered, other Bohai Bank shareholders include TEDA Investment Holding Co, China Shipping Investment Co, State Development & Investment Corporation and China Baowu Steel Group.
Reporting By Tony Munroe in DALIAN, China; Writing By Shu Zhang. Editing by Jane Merriman