Bank of China said Thursday it had sold a 4%-5% stake to the State Welfare Fund for US$1.2 billion, state media reported. The sale to the country’s social security fund is part of a series of steps required before an initial public offering expected this year in Hong Kong. The bank named Goldman Sachs, UBS and Bank of China International as its financial advisors and lead underwriters for the IPO last August. Last December, the bank said it had signed strategic investment agreements with the Royal Bank of Scotland Group, UBS, Singapore-headquartered Temasek and the Asian Development Bank. The four strategic investors will receive a combined 16.9% stake.