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Overseas Listing of Big Companies Causes Debate
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The listing on overseas stock markets of more than 300 of the largest and most lucrative state-owned companies, has sparked a hot debate in China's business circles, reports Monday's Economic Information Daily.


Ji Baocheng, president of Beijing-based Renmin University of China, started the debate when he claimed that the "blind rush" to list the state-owned companies on foreign stock markets has caused a huge loss of state assets, marginalized the domestic capital markets and poses a threat to China's economic security.


According to Ji, some 310 large and medium-sized state-owned companies had been listed on the Hong Kong, New York and other overseas stock exchanges by the end of 2005.


He estimates 80 percent of them are high performing companies that hold monopolies in their sectors. Ji estimates that the IPOs undervalued these companies by at least US$60 billion, as most of these companies had stripped off their poorly performing assets before listing overseas.


Ji said this has produced a situation where the fruits of China's dynamic economic growth are being harvested by overseas investors to the exclusion of ordinary Chinese citizens who can not use their savings in Chinese banks to invest overseas.


Li Zhenning, chairman of a Shanghai-based investment company who supports Ji's idea, said the listing of the state companies should have included all their assets which would have provided better initial stock prices, he said.


Ba Shusong, a financial analyst with the Development Research Center, an influential think tank under the State Council, believes the listing of major state-owned companies on overseas markets have marginalized the domestic stock markets. Few of the Chinese companies that are listed overseas are listed on China's markets, which have become the domain of the poorly performing former subsidiaries of the foreign listed companies.


Critics of Ji ideas said his concerns are unwarranted.


He Qiang, a scholar with the Central University of Finance and Economics, said China is a big country with many enterprises, so it is unlikely that the overseas listed companies will hollow out the economy.


Listing on overseas stock markets have enable the state-owned companies to raise hundreds of millions of dollars in foreign capital. This has helped them to expand production facilities both in China and overseas. Some of them have become multinational giants operating around the world.


Yi Xianrong, a researcher with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said that overseas listing of even a large number of companies would not threaten a country's economy.


Although these companies are listed on overseas markets, their core businesses will remain in China and their profits will flow there too.


(Xinhua News Agency March 14, 2006)


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