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'Beautiful period' for Chinese stock market
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Founded in 1988, France-based investment bank Europe Finance and Industry (EFI) has successfully helped 400 companies to list on Euronext, with total financing reaching a record 10 billion euros, which has not been matched by any investment bank in the world.

Famous in France as the founder of the second board and the No 1 underwriter for small and medium-sized companies (SMEs), Louis Thannberger, chairman of EFI, was recently awarded the Chivalric order, a top honor in France that was initiated by Napoleon in 1802.

In an interview with China Daily reporter Bi Xiaoning, the financial tycoon talked about his blueprint in China.

Q: In recent years, many overseas bourses have looked to China. What do you think are the main advantages of Euronext?

A: The main board, second board and free market are the three equity markets of NYSE Euronext and the free market is my favorite recommendation for SMEs. Firstly, there is no threshold on operating performance. With a three-year profit forecast, even new start-ups can get the go-ahead to list.

Secondly, time and money can be substantially saved as the procedures can be completed in two to six months, while it usually takes three to five years for a company to go public in China's A-share market. Even to list in Hong Kong and on the NASDAQ, it takes one to three years.

Thirdly, there is no lock-up period for shareholders' stock, which means stock can be sold for capital right after listing. Usually, the founders will hold 51 percent of shares to maintain a controlling status. It provides a more efficient way of financing, even more convenient than cooperating with private equity.

Q: Profit forecasts seem to be a key evaluation for IPOs, so how can you ensure they are real and not a mirage? And what kind of Chinese companies are you targeting as clients?

A: Exactly, the reputation of the investment bank will be damaged if the investors lose their profit. In the past 20 years, EFI's performance and public praise verifies its ability.

I have visited about 6,000 companies personally. We prefer to deal with companies in promising industries, such as bio-tech, energy and agriculture. Their annual growth rate is expected to be about 30 percent and their leaders should be ambitious entrepreneurs and strong-minded warriors.

(China Daily September 4, 2008)

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