The board of China Merchants Bank has approved a rights issue that will raise up to US$2.63 billion to replenish its capital base and increase its capital adequacy ratio, the Wall Street Journal reported. China Merchants, the country’s sixth-largest lender in terms of assets, will be the first major Chinese bank to raise funds via a rights issue since the beginning of the financial crisis last year. No timeframe for the issue was disclosed. The bank’s capital was diminished by last year’s acquistion of a majority stake in Hong Kong lender Wing Lung Bank for US$2.47 billion. China Merchants’ shares rose 3.4% to US$2.36 (HK$18.32) on Friday. After the rights issue, the bank has no plans to raise more funds for the next two years.