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Written by: Staff

SHANGHAI, Mar 25 (Reuters) Bank of China, the country's second-biggest lender, plans to raise $6 billion in an initital public offering in Hong Kong in June, the official daily Shanghai Securities News said on Saturday, citing sources.

Bank of China said earlier this month it was eyeing a Hong Kong listing in in the first half of 2006, but that no firm timetable had been set.

The bank plans to launch the IPO around June 8, but has not decided when to issue mainland-listed A shares, the paper said.

Bank of China's float plans have been delayed partly by wrangling among Beijing authorities over whether it should also seek a domestic listing.

Beijing is keen to shore up its long-ailing domestic stock markets with listings by high-profile companies, most of which have opted in recent years for the prestige and money that a Hong Kong listing can provide.

Bank of China is 10 percent-owned by a consortium led by Royal Bank of Scotland, while Singapore's Temasek Holdings has agreed to buy 5 percent of the bank for $1.5 billion, only half the stake Temasek, the investment unit of the Singaporean government, had originally sought.

Central Huijin, the investment arm of the central bank and a major shareholder of the Bank of China, had vetoed Temasek's initial proposal.

Bank of China's IPO is expected to be followed this year by a US$2 billion Hong Kong listing from China Merchants Bank and a US$10 billion IPO from Industrial and Commercial Bank of China in what would be the country's largest-ever listing.

Reuters SS DB1229

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