North China shipper aims for $ 700 mln HK IPO-sources

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HONG KONG, Sep 27 (Reuters) North China Shipping Holding Co Ltd, a unit of Hebei Ocean Shipping Co Ltd, is seeking a listing in Hong Kong to raise at least US0 million, riding record freight rates for the transport of raw materials, sources said on Thursday.

Hong Kong-based North China, shipowners and an operator in international bulk cargo shipping, could list by the end of this year, several sources familiar with the situation told Reuters on Thursday.

''We would like to speed up the process, since the market is red-hot and shipping rates are now at a record,'' a second source said.

Unrelenting demand for energy and raw materials from China has helped fuel global freight rates and encouraged shipping firms to go public, taking the advantage of potentially higher valuations for share sales.

The Baltic Exchange's dry freight Index <.BADI>, which gauges the strength of seaborne dry commodities trade, has more than doubled this year and hit a peak of 9,259 on Wednesday.

REUTERS SR GC1518

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