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Merger and acquisition of State-owned firms encouraged
( 2003-09-03 07:28) (China Daily)

Foreign investment in parts of Shanghai's State-owned local enterprises will be further allowed in a bid to accelerate the on-going process of restructuring State assets, according to government sources.

Wu Hongmei, vice-director of the new Shanghai State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission, told China Daily that her commission will join in efforts with the Shanghai Foreign Investment Commission to finalize implementation details of the new Guidelines of Mergers and Acquisitions (M&A) of State-owned Enterprises by Foreign Capital.

Under the new regulations, M&As of State-owned businesses in agriculture, energy, transportation, raw materials, environmental protection, the high-tech industry and export-orientated sectors will be encouraged by preferential policies, according to Wu.

She noted, however, such M&As should meet guidelines to help improve the management and profitability of State-owned enterprises.

Wu promised that her commission will further simplify the approval procedure, publicize trading prices and regulate State assets assessment to facilitate the involvement of international investors in State asset reform.

Earlier this month, Wu's commission and the Shanghai Foreign Investment Commission jointly set up a special department under the Shanghai Assets and Equity Exchange to deal with overseas M&As of local State-owned enterprises.

The department will regularly release the latest lists of State assets available for foreign investment and evaluate those overseas applicants for purchasing local State-owned businesses.

Foreign-funded enterprises clinched a total of 34 mergers and acquisitions through the exchange during the first five months of this year, nearly twice the figure for the same period last year, involving a total of 113.2 million yuan (US$13.7 million), according to official statistics.

Mitchell Dudek, a senior lawyer with the US-based law firm Paul Hastings, Janofsky & Walker LLP's Shanghai office, told China Daily yesterday that foreign investors are seeking every opportunity to buy into China's State assets.

"They (foreign investors) are interested in any industries or services, it's just a question of the authority's permission and price,'' he said.

Currently, State-owned sectors like consumer products, construction materials, logistics and electric equipment and the banking industry in Shanghai are hot pursuits by foreign investors, according to sources with the exchange.

In addition to foreign direct investment (FDI), the overseas M&As will be an increasingly important channel for introducing overseas capital, said Shanghai Foreign Investment Commission Director Pan Longqing last week at the city's annual foreign investment work conference.

Currently, only around 10 per cent of the country's overseas investment has been introduced through M&As, compared with a percentage of around 80 in the international capital market, according to the commission statistics.

"More and more opportunities are ahead (for foreign investors) as the city accelerates the process of restructuring its massive State assets,'' said Pan.


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