Some of China's big press and publishing firms have tapped into domestic equities markets for sustainable growth, as the central government urges making the cultural sector one of the pillar industries of China's economy in the next five years.
Zhejiang Daily Press Group, for instance, with a daily circulation of more than 2 million, has plans for a back-door listing via Shanghai WhiteCat Shareholding Co Ltd, a Shanghai-listed toothpaste maker that has been suspended from trading since late April after reporting losses for three consecutive years since 2007.
WhiteCat, which has fallen to "special treatment" status, will obtain assets of 2.46 billion yuan ($390 million) from Zhejiang Daily Press Holdings Group, a subsidiary of Zhejiang Daily, through the deal, WhiteCat said in a statement to the Shanghai Stock Exchange on Wednesday.
Zhejiang Daily Press Holdings realized a net profit of 314 million yuan in 2009. Its injected assets to the listed firm are expected to yield 196 million yuan of net profit in 2011, the statement said.
After the move, Zhejiang Daily will have a 64.62 percent controlling stake in the listed company.
The transaction is subject to regulatory approval.
Zhejiang Daily declined to comment on the deal when reached by China Daily.
"It's good news for WhiteCat, which is likely to be delisted for such a poor performance. And Zhejiang Daily's stable, good performance will give WhiteCat a boost in the market," said Tian Honggang, an analyst with Xiangcai Securities.
WhiteCat, which owns the Zhonghua toothpaste brand, a household name leased by Unilever since 1994, reported a loss of 9.88 million yuan in the first half of 2010, with earnings per share of minus 0.065 yuan.
"It will be a trend for media companies to enter the capital market, as the country has been emphasizing this industry in recent years," Tian said, adding, that the sector, in turn, will reap rewards in the capital market.
Zhejiang Daily's move came after Guangzhou Daily's restructuring attempt in early December to inject more of its assets into Guangdong Media Co, Ltd, a listed unit under the press group. After the deal Guangdong Media will be the largest listed newspaper company in the A-share market.
In November, Changjiang Publishing Group of Hubei province announced a plan to purchase a 35 percent stake in the Shanghai-listed garment company Yuanfa, in a bid to make a foray into the equities market, also via a back-door listing.
The central government, for the first time, lists in its 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-2015) the cultural industry as a major sector contributing to the national economy. "In past sets of guidelines, the cultural industry was rarely mentioned with such emphasis," said Fan Min, an analyst at Everbright Securities.
In April, authorities including the China Securities Regulatory Commission and General Administration of Press and Publication issued a statement calling on financial segments to boost support for the cultural industry and encouraging qualified cultural companies to list.
(China Daily 12/16/2010 page17)