Top Dog

SHANGHAI, Nov 5, 2007 (AFP) – PetroChina became the world’s largest company by market value Monday, worth nearly one trillion dollars — double the value of ExxonMobil — as its shares surged in their debut on the Chinese mainland.

The milestone underlined the ongoing boom on Chinese markets, which have been flooded with ready cash brought by hungry investors who have disregarded warnings that the China bubble is destined to burst eventually.

Asia’s top oil and gas producer already traded in Hong Kong and New York, but PetroChina’s new shares made their debut Monday on the Shanghai bourse after the largest initial public offering ever on the Chinese mainland.

The shares, priced at 16.7 yuan for the IPO, were trading at 48.62 yuan (6.5 dollars) shortly after the market’s opening, an increase of 191 percent that valued the firm at roughly 500 billion dollars more than ExxonMobil.

PetroChina’s market capitalisation shot past the 1.1 trillion dollar mark in early trade before broader market losses prompted a retreat to about 980 billion dollars.

In terms of earnings, however, PetroChina does not even make it into the top 50 companies of the world, raising a red flag both about the valuation of the firm and the o