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Stop large new issues, firms told
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The securities regulator yesterday warned listed companies to desist from excessively large issues of new shares that could undermine the stock market, a move that analysts believe could boost investor confidence.

"Refinancing by listed companies is one of the capital market's functions, but companies should take the timing, scale and market sentiment into account when planning new share issues Companies should on no account maliciously seize money from the market," the China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC) said in a statement on its website.

"Besides, the commission will also look at the feasibility of fund-raising plans and whether they conform to regulations when it examines applications by listed companies to offer shares," the statement said.

The benchmark Shanghai stock index has plunged 24 percent since mid-January because of concern about the market's ability to absorb large supplies of new shares.

Ping An Insurance announced last month that it plans to raise up to 150 billion yuan ($21 billion), prompting other firms to follow suit, including Shanghai Pudong Development Bank which is targeting 40 billion yuan ($5.6 billion).

So far this year, some 43 firms have released re-financing plans, aiming to raise 260 billion yuan (36 billion), compared with 394 billion ($55 billion) raised by 190 firms for the whole of last year.

The CSRC statement urged shareholders to use their influence over listed companies to block excessive fund-raising plans.

"The regulator's latest notice could boost investor confidence and ease market concerns of a liquidity crunch," said Dong Chen, a senior analyst with CITIC China Securities.

Given the current bearish sentiment, convertible bonds and small-scale additional shares are better choices for issues, he added.

According to the CSRC, Ping An has not submitted its mega share sale plan yet, and the regulator will urge the company to disclose timely and clear information.

Despite the recent big swings in the stock market, triggered both by fluctuations in the international financial market and a correction at home, the CSRC said it will strive to make sure the capital market develops in a steady and healthy manner.

(China Daily February 26, 2008)

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