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Concern raised at overseas listings of SOEs
By Li Fangchao (China Daily)
Updated: 2006-03-08 05:55

The "blind rush" by the country's large State-owned enterprises (SOE) to be listed on international markets has led to a huge loss of State assets and is jeopardizing the mainland's economic safety, an expert has warned.

Ji Baocheng
Ji Baocheng, president of Renmin University of China and a top economist, said he had hoped that Premier Wen Jiabao's work report would include a warning to regulate or even curb the trend.

He estimated that at least US$60 billion worth of State-owned assets were lost on international markets from 1993 to 2005, which almost equals the loss resulting from the domestic reform of State-owned enterprises.

"The sum is appalling," said Ji, a leading scholar in economic circles. He said his estimation was based on the price gap between the domestic and international Initial Public Offerings (IPO).

"An enterprise's international IPO is often 20 per cent lower than its domestic one," he said.

By the end of 2005, more than 310 overseas-listed enterprises had a total market value of US$370 billion, more than two times that of the domestically-listed ones, he said.

About 100 more are expected to be listed on the international market in the coming three years, he estimated.

"What adds insult to injury is that 80 per cent of these internationally-listed SOEs are the leading ones in their fields, which have high-quality assets and often take the monopolization position in a certain field," he said.

"Their low IPOs are resulting in huge State-owned asset losses," he said.

Ji said that in order to be listed on the international market, these SOEs shrugged off their burden of liability through capital regrouping, and the peeling-off of its bad assets.

"The foreign capitals then could share the high-quality assets and the benefits we achieved through monopolization," he said.

Ji urged the central government to curb the "blind rush" of SOEs to international markets. "Too much internationalization of our stock ownership will pose a danger for China's economic security and exert a negative influence on our future development strategy," he said.

He suggested that a system should be set up to carefully screen the SOEs which intend to get listed on overseas markets.

(China Daily 03/08/2006 page2)

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