By Samuel Shen and Elzio Barreto
SHANGHAI/HONG KONG (Reuters) - A small drug maker has become China's first stock-exchange aspirant to postpone listing since the country's IPO market reopened just 10 days ago, after calling its share sale "too big."
The decision, which is rare in the advance stage of a listing process, pours cold water on a market for initial public offerings in mainland China that was just restarting after a nearly 15-month hiatus.
Expectations for Chinese IPOs are running high, with consulting firm PwC forecasting funds raised to reach 250 billion yuan ($41.3 billion) in 2014.
The China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC) ended the IPO freeze on December 31 and announced measures to curb excessive pricing.
The regulator pressured the drugmaker to delay, signalling it may not be loosening its control of IPOs despite pledging to allow issuers and underwriters decide timing and pricing, Thomson Reuters publication IFR said, citing sources familiar with the transaction.
The CSRC was not immediately available to comment on the matter.
Nanjing-based Jiangsu Aosaikang Pharmaceutical Co Ltd had aimed to raise 4.05 billion yuan ($668.87 million) by listing on the Shenzhen Stock Exchange's ChiNext board at a price state-run China Daily on Thursday said was too high.
The maker of digestive and anti-cancer agents had planned to sell 55.46 million shares at 72.99 yuan each, equivalent to 67 times its 2012 net profit. But in an exchange filing on Friday it said it will delay the sale until an appropriate time because "the proposed issuance was too big."
Most of the shares on offer were from parent Nanjing Aosaikang Pharmaceutical Co, with only 20 percent of the issuance being new shares.
The average price-to-earnings ratio of pharmaceutical companies listed on Shenzhen's Nasdaq-style ChiNext is 55.31, according to the state-run Shanghai Securities Journal.
Jiangsu Aosaikang had hired China International Capital Corp to underwrite the IPO.
($1 = 6.0550 Chinese yuan)
(Additional reporting by Fayen Wong in SHANGHAI and Ken Wang of IFR in BEIJING; Editing by Christopher Cushing)