Record IPO to raise pounds 11bn

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THE WORLD'S biggest public share offering - the flotation of the Japanese mobile telephone company DoCoMo - is set to raise pounds 10.8bn after the shares were priced yesterday towards the top of the range at 3.9m yen (pounds 20,000) each.

The huge offer was twice subscribed with 200,000 private Japanese investors applying for shares alongside 2,000 Japanese and international institutions.

The flotation ran into controversy after it emerged that the elder brother of Japan's Prime Minister, Mitsuhei Obuchi, is the second largest private shareholder in DoCoMo. His stake of 270 shares will be valued at just over one billion yen.

The shares will make their debut on the Tokyo Stock Exchange on 22 October.

"The price is mostly in line with our expectations," said Yasuo Ueki, general manager at Nikko Securities.

"A price below 4 million yen is not expensive, which means NTT DoCoMo is not likely to see a sharp fall on the day of listing," he added.

But some market participants were taking a more cautious view, saying that the offering price of Y3.9m appeared to be too high for cash-strapped individual investors hit hard by domestic economic stagnation. The indicative price range for DoCoMo had been set between Y3.3m to Y4.3m.

DoCoMo has achieved a nearly six-fold increase in group net profit in the past two years. It holds a 57 per cent share of Japan's cellular phone market with 20 million subscribers. Due to its huge market value, DoCoMo is expected to become a substantial part of various Japanese share indices after its listing, making it vital for tracker funds to buy the share.

Behind investors' bullish stance is DoCoMo's potential to continue dominating Japan's mobile phone market, the world's second-largest.

Under the IPO, DoCoMo will issue 327,000 new shares, raising 1.28 trillion yen. DoCoMo said it would use the proceeds to repay debt and to fund development of the next-generation W-CDMA (wide-band code division multiple access) mobile phone systems.