11/05/2007, 00.00
CHINA
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PetroChina, the world’s most highly valued company by market capitalisation

Share values almost triple in its market debut, but they are too closely related to oil prices and government fuel pricing policy.

Shanghai (AsiaNews) – Shares in PetroChina almost tripled in their market debut on Monday in the Shanghai stock exchange making it the world’s biggest company with a market value of around 1 US$ trillion, far more than US-based Exxon Mobil whose estimated value stands at US$ 488 billion. PetroChina is part of the China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC).

The initial public-offering price of 16.70 yuan jumped almost three times to 48.62 yuan in an hour, later dropping a little to just around 45. By midday shares stood at 43.65 yuan, much more than the 35 yuan analysts expected.

PetroChina first floated shares in Hong Kong and New York in April 2000. Its good performance in Shanghai shows that investors are interested in China’s energy market, which is thirsty for crude oil.

However, some observers believe that the massive demand for PetroChina shares is partly due to speculation and could hurt the stock and the overall market later on.

The surge in global oil prices, which hit an all-time high above US$ 96 a barrel in New York last week, has been good news for PetroChina so far. Last week, Beijing hiked domestic fuel prices by up to 10 percent.

The Chinese government holds 86 per cent of the company’s shares.

In terms of earnings though, PetroChina is not as good as its share prices would let one to believe. China’s largest oil and gas producer is not among the top 50 companies in the world.

But analysts expect its earnings to increase by 20 per cent in 2008 and 15 per cent in 2009.

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