China preparing to roll out OTC equity market-regulator

SHANGHAI Tue Apr 17, 2012 10:01pm EDT

SHANGHAI (Reuters) - China's securities regulator is already preparing to roll out a new over-the-counter (OTC) equity market, even though the plan has not yet received official cabinet approval, the head of China's securities regulator said in comments published by official media on Wednesday.

China's "new third board" aims to provide a new financing channel for small, unlisted firms, with a focus on high-tech companies.

A trial version of the OTC market, based in Beijing's Zhongguancun district, was launched in 2006. It is similar to the Over-the-Counter Bulletin Board in the U.S. and provides an electronic platform for non-listed companies to raise funds.

Guo Shuqing, chairman of the China's Securities Regulatory Commission, said his agency has submitted the final version of the plan to the State Council, China's cabinet, where it is awaiting final approval, the official China Securities Journal reported. But the agency is already actively preparing the system, Guo said.

The OTC board is one of a series of recent measures by Chinese policymakers to expand access to credit for small, privately-owned firms that are now largely shut out of China's financial system, which is dominated by state-owned banks lending to state-owned companies.

Other measures include plans for private-placement bonds by small- and medium-sized enterprises and a pilot project in the to legalize and standardize grey-market lending in the city of Wenzhou, known as a center or private entrepreneurship and underground lending.

Guo's comments, which were also featured prominently by other local media, including the official Shanghai Securities News, were made in a speech on Tuesday at the Hubei Province Capital Markets Construction Work Conference.

(Reporting by Gabriel Wildau; Editing by Eric Meijer.)