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FT: Beijing Youth Daily plans HK$1bn IPO
Updated: 2004-07-23 11:11

Beijing Youth Daily, one of China's most popular newspapers, is preparing to list its business operations on the Hong Kong market, possibly before the end of October, in a deal that could value it at some HK$4bn (US$512m), the Financial Times reports.

The initial public offering, which will give international investors an unprecedented opportunity to invest in a Chinese newspaper, is part of a broad set of reforms aimed at commercializing China's media industry.

People familiar with the IPO plans said Beijing Youth Daily, China's second biggest newspaper group after the Guangzhou Daily, hoped to list in Hong Kong by the end of October.

It is understood the publication is looking to sell up to 25 per cent of its shares in Hong Kong in a deal that could raise up to HK$1bn, the report says.

However, people close to the company said no decision on the size and timing of the listing had yet been taken.

Beijing Youth Daily had earlier planned to list on a domestic Chinese market but has been given special permission to issue its shares overseas as part of a "trial" policy, the FT report says.

The newspaper is one of a number of publications selected to pioneer media reforms but is understood to be the only one approved for an overseas IPO.

The Beijing-based China's General Administration of Press and Publication declined to give details of whether there were plans to allow direct foreign investment in newspaper operations. "The details of the trial news publication reform is not released to the public," an administration official said.

It is expected that overseas investment is being limited to non-core operations spun off from parent newspapers or broadcasters.

Beijing Youth Daily is to list its business operations such as advertising and sales departments, which will fund the separate editorial unit under a long-term contract.

The paper plans to use the proceeds in part to fund forays into other media sectors such as broadcasting and business news.

"If this succeeds, it may be that other newspapers will be allowed to follow," one person familiar with the IPO plans said.

A number of other newspapers are hoping to hold domestic listings to help them survive in the increasingly competitive domestic media market.

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