The institutional tranche of Bank of China's massive initial public offering was covered within hours of its opening on Thursday, with orders reaching at least US$9.37 billion, the South China Morning Post reported. Fund managers, who put the stellar interest down to reduced concern about investing in bank stocks following the successful listing of China Construction Bank last year, expect the BOC to price its shares at the top of the price range. The bank, China's second-largest lender, is offering 25.56 billion shares at between US$0.32 and US$0.39 to raise up to US$9.89 billion, which equates to 1.89 to 2.17 times its 2006 book value. A total of 95% of these shares are to go to institutional investors, with 22% or US$2.26 billion earmarked for 12 corporate investors. The retail tranche of the share sale, which, like the institutional portion, is being arranged by Goldman Sachs, UBS and BOCI, will run from May 18-23, with June 1 set as the trading debut.