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April 08, 2009 (LBO) - HSBC, Europe's biggest bank, said it had completed its 12.

5-billion-pound rights issue with the sale of the remaining 3.
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4 percent of shares not taken up by existing shareholders, AFP news agency reported. The British banking giant said Sunday it had a 96.6 percent take-up of the record rights issue, which is worth 18 billion dollars or 13.

7 billion euros and was announced last month after a 70-percent plunge in profits.

On Monday, the London-based bank said Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan Cazenove and HSBC bank had placed the remaining 3.4 percent, at 448 pence or 51.83 Hong Kong dollars a share.

The rights issue was hailed as a success by HSBC group chairman Stephen Green, who said on Sunday he was "confident" the company remained "well-placed" despite the world financial crisis.

HSBC has refused British government financial assistance in contrast to rivals like Royal Bank of Scotland.

It offered investors five new shares at a heavily-discounted price of 254 pence each for every 12 they already own, AFP said.

A statement from HSBC Holdings said there had been "strong support" for its 5 for 12 rights issue announced on March 2, 2009.

The rights issue will strengthen the bank's capi

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