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More measures set to optimize SOE management

Updated: Jan 14,2019 9:13 AM

More measures are expected to roll out to optimize capital management for State-owned enterprises (SOEs) in China, as a part of the country’s larger efforts to boost economic growth amid external challenges, experts said.

The measures would include further encouraging the mixed ownership reform and introducing new operational mechanisms for SOEs, and offering a more relaxed regulatory environment from the government, said Ma Jun, director at the Enterprise Research Institute under Development Research Center of the State Council.

The comments were made on Jan 12 at China Economic Prospect: Directions and Pathways for China’s SOE Reform in the New Era, an industry forum held by China Economic Times.

China had taken measures to tackle some SOEs’ structural problems in 2016, when the country’s top regulator for State assets, the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission, selected a group of 10 pilot State-owned companies and encouraged them to establish independent financial and operational arms to better manage their assets and serve the real economy.

Following the move, the SASAC said in late November it would release the second group of 10 pilot State-owned capital investment and operating companies.

Commenting on the moves, Xiao Yaqing, chairman of the SASAC, said earlier that those measures will help SOEs to have more efficient financial operations and resource management.

Xiao also said similar moves for provincial-level SOEs also will offer new momentum in driving regional economic growth.

Many provincial-level SOEs have started similar attempts with encouragement from local governments.

An example is the Shanxi State-owned Capital Investment and Operation Co Ltd. The company was set up to improve asset management in SOEs based in North China’s Shanxi province. The company owns and manages all shares from provincial-level SOEs, and is responsible for financial activities like mergers, acquisitions, investment, and many others.

“We are confident in the attempt, but we have also realized numerous challenges, such as rising risks in transactions. We hope to see more guidelines from the central government on moves alike,” said Gao Chunyi, a division chief for SOE reform at the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission of Shanxi Provincial Government.

The province also has taken other measures effective to central SOE reform. For example, the local government has encouraged a total of seven provincial-level central SOEs to adopt mixed-ownerships structures.

In response to the local government’s call for mixed-ownership reform, Shanxi’s major baijiu (white alcohol) brand, Shanxi Xinghuacun Fenjiu Group Co Ltd, has transferred 11.45 percent of its shares last June to CR Enterprise, a subsidiary of China Resources (Holdings) Co Ltd, as a crucial step of its mixed-ownership reform.

Moreover, the company has optimized its management systems with reference to CR Enterprise’s experience.

“The move has largely raised the group’s operational efficiency and marked a crucial step for Shanxi-based SOEs’ reform process,” said Li Qiuxi, Party-secretary and chairman of Fenjiu Group.

According to Li, the group’s revenue in the alcohol sector doubled in 2018, compared with 2016. The group officially started its reform process in February of 2017.

“The group also benefits from a more relaxed regulatory environment, thanks to the local government,” Li said.