Chinese commercial bank China Bohai Bank has officially begun marketing its stocks worth around $1.85 billion in Hong Kong as part of its initial public offering (IPO). The share sale is expected to be the largest IPO in the city so far this year.

The Tianjin-based bank is selling 2.88 billion shares priced at between HK$4.75 and HK$4.98 per share. So far, the company has secured nine cornerstone investors. Its top investor, Yichang HEC Health Pharmaceutical, has announced that it will be buying up to $520 million worth of China Bohai's shares.

According to its filing with the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, China Bohai Bank has restructured its ownership stakes as part of its IPO plan. The stake of its largest shareholder, state-owned TEDA Investment Holdings, will be reduced from 25 percent to 20.85 percent. That stake could be reduced to 20.34 percent is the IPO's sponsors choose to exercise the IPO's overallotment option. The stake of Standard Chartered has also been reduced from 19.99 percent to 16.67 percent, which can be lowered to 16.26 percent with the overallotment option.

China Bohai plans to use the proceeds of the share sale to bolster its capital base. In 2019, the company posted a net annual profit of 8.19 billion yuan, a 15.7 percent year-on-year increase. As of December last year, the bank reported net assets of over 1.12 trillion yuan.

The official pricing of its IPO is set to be announced on July 9. The bank expects its shares to be open for trading on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange on July 16. CCB International, CLSA and Haitong International, and ABC International are acting as sponsors for the transaction.

The bank, which is backed by the UK's Standard Chartered Bank, is the latest Chinese firm to list its shares in Hong Kong amid the rising tensions between the US and China. In June, more than 30 companies had launched their IPOs in Hong Kong. So far, the city has managed to raise more than $11.2 billion through share sales since the start of the year.

Chinese companies account for about 97 percent of the total number of listings. and NetEase are among the largest IPOs so far, raising a combined $6.6 billion through their listings last month. The two companies are also part of a growing number of US-listed companies that have chosen to launch secondary listings at home amid the US' increasing scrutiny of listed Chinese firms. Tensions between US capital markets and Chinese firms escalted ealier in the year, after the news of the Luckin Coffee scandal broke out, leading to the implimentation of stricter listing rules.