By Huw Jones and Abhinav Ramnarayan

LONDON (Reuters) – Shares in China Pacific Insurance Co (CPIC) rose on their London market debut on Wednesday, in a boost for a stock exchange link-up between Britain and China designed to improve investment and trade relations between the countries.

CPIC said it had priced a $1.8 billion listing of global depositary receipts (GDRs) in London at $17.60 per share, making it the biggest listing on the London Stock Exchange this year so far.

At 1000 GMT, the GDRs were up 2% at $17.96.

“The listing will support our expansion into new markets and facilitate the company in introducing high-quality investors around the world,” Kong Qingwei, chairman and executive director at CPIC, said in a statement. He added the listing was also a symbol of mutual trust between the East and the West.

The London-Shanghai Stock Connect scheme was launched in 2018 to allow Shanghai-listed companies to add a secondary listing in London and vice versa.

The idea was to have several British and Chinese companies using the scheme in the first couple of years. But CPIC is only the second to list on Stock Connect after Huatai Securities.

Another energy company, SDIC Holding, was on the cusp of pricing a deal in December, but China pulled the plug on new listings through the scheme due to political concerns. They changed stance earlier this year.

SDIC and China Yantze Power could potentially use the scheme for a London listing later this year, bankers said.

The CPIC deal was priced at the bottom of the indicated range, and suggested a roughly 10% discount to CPIC’s A-shares in Shanghai.

Insurance giant Swiss Re had agreed to acquire up to 28.9 million GDRs in the offer.

(Reporting by Huw Jones and Abhinav Ramnarayan; Editing by Tom Arnold and Mark Potter)