Business / Companies

China Huarong to invite 8 strategic investors

(Xinhua) Updated: 2014-08-28 10:52

BEIJING - China's largest asset-management company will go public by the end of 2015, it announced on Thursday, in the latest deepening of market-oriented reform in the country's financial sector.

China Huarong Asset Management Co Ltd will partner with eight investors ranging from a major Chinese food industry supplier to US banking behemoths ahead of the listing, as Chinese authorities ramp up their drive to introduce mixed ownership to State-owned companies and invite more private capital into the economy.

The eight companies will invest a total of 14.54 billion yuan ($2.36 billion) in Huarong, which said the deal has been approved by the State Council and other supervision authorities.

The investors will jointly hold a 20.98-percent stake in the asset-managing giant. But the share each company will take has yet to be revealed.

The eight are China Life, CITIC Securities International, the China International Capital Corporation (CICC), the China National Cereals, Oils and Foodstuffs Corporation (COFCO), Fosun, Goldman Sachs, Warburg Pincus and Khazanah Nasional Berhad.

China Life, which already holds a small stake in Huarong, is the country's largest insurance company. COFCO is a State-owned enterprise mainly involved in the food industry.

CITIC Securities International is a Hong Kong-based brokerage and investment group, CICC is China's largest investment bank, and Fosun is a Shanghai-headquartered investment company.

As well as the US financial giants Goldman Sachs and Warburg Pincus, the eight are rounded out by Malaysian sovereign wealth fund Khazanah Nasional Berhad.

Huarong's board chairman Lai Xiaomin said the company will cooperate with the investors in asset management, investment, risk control and staff training. It will issue shares "at a proper time" near the end of 2015, he added.

Huarong is a State-owned financial firm in which the Chinese Ministry of Finance (MOF) and China Life currently hold a 98.06-percent and a 1.94-percent stake, respectively.

After the deal is closed, the MOF's share will decline to 77.5 percent.

In 1999, China founded Huarong, Cinda, Orient and Great Wall as four asset-management corporations to dispose of the 1.4 trillion yuan of non-performing loans (NPL) hived off from State-owned banks hit by the Asian financial crisis in 1997.

In 2012, Cinda became the first of the four to call for investors and went public in Hong Kong at the end of 2013. The future of Huarong, the biggest, then came into the spotlight.

"Thursday's deal will usher in a new phase of development where the company will be owned by both State and private capital," said Lai.

The Chinese government hopes that such cooperation can reinvigorate the economy by inviting more private capital, including foreign investment, into State-owned companies.

David Li, managing direct of Warburg Pincus' China division, told Xinhua that the tie-up with Huarong is his company's largest investment in China and that "Warburg Pinus is optimistic about China's economic momentum and its financial market."

According to Sun Xiaoxia, director of the MOF's finance department, Huarong will transform from an NPL management firm to a large financial group in businesses including banks, securities, insurance and leasing.

"The MOF will continue to support Huarong and work with the eight strategic investors for the development of the company," said Sun.

China Huarong to invite 8 strategic investors
China Huarong to invite 8 strategic investors
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