Samsung Life Insurance shares jumped 10 percent in their first day of trading in South Korea after a $4.3 billion initial public offering that set a record as the country's largest.
The shares opened Wednesday at 119,500 won ($104.69), some 8.6 percent above the IPO price of 110,000 won. They later moved as high as 121,000 won, for an increase of 10 percent, before surrendering some of those gains to close at 114,000 won on selling by foreign investors amid worries over Europe's debt crisis.
The IPO was South Korea's biggest, according to Kang Seung-ju, an official at the Korea Exchange, the stock market operator.
A total of 44,437,420 shares were offered to the public with a value of about 4.9 trillion won ($4.3 billion) at the IPO price. That far exceeded the previous record IPO by Korea Life Insurance Co. earlier this year of 1.78 trillion won.
Samsung Life is South Korea's biggest life insurer and a key company in the Samsung Group conglomerate, which is spearheaded by Samsung Electronics Co. The closely watched IPO drew strong interest from investors.
Samsung Electronics Chairman Lee Kun-hee is the biggest investor in Samsung Life, holding 20.76 percent of the total 200 million listed shares, according to the insurer. His stake was worth about 4.7 trillion won at the closing share price.
Lee, ranked by Forbes Asia as South Korea's richest person with a $7.9 billion fortune, is the son of the founder of the conglomerate, which consists of dozens of companies.
Besides electronics and finance, the group also has interests in shipbuilding, construction, fashion, leisure and other businesses.
Samsung Life became the fourth-biggest company on the Korea Exchange with a market capitalization of 22.8 trillion won, ranking behind Samsung Electronics, steelmaker Posco and Hyundai Motor Co., according to the exchange.
The company's inability to hold on to early gains came as foreign investors were net sellers of the stock to the tune of 454 billion won, according to the exchange. Retail and institutional investors were net buyers.
Kim Joong-hyun, a strategist at Shinhan Investment Corp., said that "some foreign investors who are very nervous" about European financial turmoil sold shares.
South Korea's benchmark Kospi stock index, meanwhile, declined 0.4 percent to close at 1,663.03.
Samsung Life released earnings Wednesday for the year ending March 31, saying net profit surged eightfold to 906.1 billion won from the year before on higher investment returns and sales. Revenue rose 1.6 percent to 25.7 trillion won.
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