Bank of China shares made a strong debut on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange Thursday, rising 15.3% despite the benchmark Hang Seng index continuing its poor run with a 1.3% decline. BOC raised US$9.7 billion in the world's largest initial public offering in six years and attracted a record one million share applications in the run up to its listing. This enabled the bank to price its shares at US$0.38, near the top of its indicative range, which equates to 2.18 times book value. Investors were not deterred as the stock closed at US$0.43 with about US$2.58 billion worth of shares changing hands. The strong performance is encouraging for Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, the country's largest lender ahead of BOC, which is expected to launch a US$10 billion offering in Hong Kong later this year. Bank of Communications has seen its share price double since listing in Hong Kong last June, while China Construction Bank is up 50% following its October IPO.