Shares in BankWest, the Perth-based regional bank which was bought by Bank of Scotland for $A900 million last year, made a strong debut on the Australian stock market, going to an immediate 22 per cent premium over the offer price. BankWest shares opened at $2.515, and reached a high of $2.74 at one stage. They closed at $2.58, a level that capitalises the bank at $A1.12 billion. The increased capitalisation places it within the Australian Stock Exchange’s top 50 companies. During the first two hours of trading, around 30 million shares – almost 7 per cent of the equity – changed hands. The shares had been expected to go to a premium after there was heavy demand from investors for the 49 per cent of the bank’s equity, which Bank of Scotland agreed to float on the stock market when it bought the institution from the Western Australian state government. However, the closing price was at the upper end of pre-float estimates by analysts.