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Chinese SOEs speed up mixed-ownership drive

Xinhua | Updated: 2017-11-02 14:05

BEIJING -- Chinese State-owned enterprises (SOEs) are picking up pace in mixed-ownership reforms, as the country expects private investment to improve competitiveness in the state sector.

More than 40 listed SOEs have announced trading suspensions due to major asset reorganizations on the A-share market, according to information service provider Wind.

"It came after governments stepped up support, and market forces began to play an ever greater role in the process," said Zhao Linghuan, chairman of Hony Capital. The investment fund is backed by Legend Holdings and has participated in the restructuring of 33 SOEs, and remains optimistic about future prospects.

Telecom giant China Unicom Thursday unveiled plans to sell more shares to investors by private placement after it kicked off a mixed-ownership adjustment in August.

The deal worth around 61.5 billion yuan (nearly $10 billion) will grant more shares to companies including Alibaba and Tencent, with China Unicom Group still the controlling shareholder.

Li Jin, deputy head with China Enterprise Reform and Development Society, said more local firms would follow suit.

"More local SOEs will likely be included in the third group of companies to pilot the reform, especially those in monopolized sectors," Li said.

Wind data showed that the majority of trading-suspended listed SOEs were administered by local authorities.

China's first two batches of SOEs to implement ownership reforms were mainly administered by central government, such as China Eastern Air Holding Company and China Southern Power Grid.

Some local governments have rolled out plans to accelerate SOE reforms, and many more are in the pipeline. Shenzhen plans to start ownership diversification in SOEs in competitive sectors in the next year and ensure basic completion in 2019.

Analysts suggested policy makers adopt differentiated approaches as every SOE has its own characteristics, saying the reforms would be a long process, and not accomplished at one stroke.

The Ministry of Finance showed combined SOE profits rose 24.9 percent year-on-year in the first three quarters, quickening from the 21.7 percent expansion seen in the first eight months.

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