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The Top 10 IPOs in History

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The Agricultural Bank of China Ltd. confirmed it raised a record $22.1 billion in its initial public offering last month after selling more stock in Shanghai, making it the world’s largest IPO.

The bank is China's main rural lender, and reportedly sold an additional 3.34 billion shares at the IPO price of 2.68 yuan each, according to a filing on Sunday. The IPO now exceeds the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China LTD's 2006 initial offering of $21.9 billion.

Of course, a long-standing market truism that I just made up is that no big market deed ever goes unpunished. To gather some vaguely informative evidence of this aphoristic cliche, let's take a look at the 10 largest IPOs in market history.

10. Rosneft, Russia, 2006 - $10.6 billion
Russia's state-owned oil company became the largest offering in Russian history. The process was controversial with Yukos trying to stop the issuance after Risneft acquired Yuganskneftegaz, its main production asset, during the forced break-up of Yukos two years earlier.

9. Dai-Ichi Life Insurance, Japan, 2010 - $11.1 billion
Dai-Ichi Life Insurance went public on April 1 this year, seriously. At the time of the offering, initial public offerings in Japan had reached a two-decade low. The stock is down 34% since its debut.

8. Bank of China, China, 2006 - $11.2 billion
One of the four state-owned banks in China, it debuted in 2006 raising $11.2 billion.

7. Deutsche Telekom AG, Germany, 2006 - $13 billion
Deutsche Telekom's IPO raised $13 billion in 1996. I think this chart tell us all we need to know about this one.

6. Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corp., Japan, 1986 - $13.7 billion
I think we all remember what happened the following year. And here's an interesting factoid, in October 2000, NTT sold $3.5 billion in stock along with the government's stake of $12 billion to help finance the purchase of the dotcom Verio by NTT subsidiary NTT Communications Corp. At the time, the U.S. government, led by inquiries from the Justice Department and FBI, became concerned that the Japanese government could obtain access to classified information via the purchase. NTT agreed to form a separate division within the company staffed by U.S. citizens and so the deal was allowed to proceed. The Nasdaq crashed almost immediately following the deal, however, and after that no one much cared either way.

5. Ente Nazionale per L'Energie Elettrica, Italy, 1999 - $17.4 billion
Italy's primarily state-owned electricity company, ENEL, became partially privatized via this 1999 initial public offering. Today it stands as Europe's most indebted utility and, oddly enough, this coming October will launch an IPO in its Green Power Unit, making it possibly the largest European IPO this year.

4. NTT Mobile Communications Network, Japan, 1998 - $18.4 billion
This offering by NTT's so-called DoCoMo unit, occurred during the height of the IPO-craze of the late 1990s. Here again, the chart says it all.

3. Visa, U.S., 2008 - $19.6 billion
Visa's IPO in March 2008 occurred about five minutes after the Bear Stearns collapse.

2. Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, China, 2006 - $21.9 billion

One of China's big-four state-owned commercial banks, the IPO in 2006 was the world's largest until last month's Agricultural Bank of China.

1. The Agricultural Bank of China Ltd. - $22.1 billion

China this year easily leads the world in IPOs, and did so even before this issuance last month. In addition, today we learned that in the second quarter China surpassed Japan as the world's second-largest economy.
POSITION:  No positions in stocks mentioned.