(Adds state agency comment, background)
SHANGHAI/HONG KONG, July 15 A Chinese government
agency that oversees state-owned firms on Tuesday named six of
them it said will participate in a reform process that could
widen the role private capital plays in China's massive state
The six named companies are China National Building
Materials Group; China National Pharmaceutical Group Corporation
(Sinopharm); State Development & Investment Corp; China National
Cereals, Oils and Foodstuffs Corp (COFCO); China Energy
Conservation and Environmental Protection Group; and Xinxing
Cathay International Group.
Two to three more companies will be selected for reforms,
according to the State-owned Assets Supervision and
Administration Commission of the State Council (SASAC), which is
responsible for more than 100 of China's biggest state-owned
Some big state-owned enterprises (SOE) have listed
subsidiaries, such as China National Building Material Co Ltd
, Sinopharm Group Co Ltd and China
Agri-Industries Holdings Ltd.
However, the overall role of private capital in the groups
that control the bulk of economic activity has been small.
Tuesday's move is the latest by Beijing, which is carrying
out its biggest overhaul of the bloated and debt-laden
state-owned sector since the late 1990s.
SASAC said in a statement these companies were selected
because they have undergone deeper reforms and seen better
results in recent years.
CHANGE HAS BEEN PROMISED
The agency said one goal of the reform program is "to
enhance the state-owned regulatory model by focusing more on
Large swathes of China's economy still lie in the hands of
government-owned conglomerates, a situation President Xi Jinping
promised to change last year by encouraging more private
participation in such enterprises when he announced sweeping
reforms to the country's socialist economy.
In March, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said the telecoms,
electricity, resource development, banking, oil and utilities
sectors will be open to non-state capital.
In recent months, some of China's top conglomerates such as
CITIC Group Corp, China's flagship investment
company, have announced spin-offs and restructuring plans while
local authorities have begun experimenting with new management
Sinopec Corp , Asia's biggest oil
refiner, announced in February a planned spin-off of part of its
marketing arm that could raise up to $20 billion.
The last time there was a major reform and restructuring
programme for state-owned enterprises, in the 1990s, the
government sold off or shut thousands of firms, culling the
number of state firms to about 110,000 from 260,000.
(Reporting by Brenda Goh in SHANGHAI, Clare Jim and Yimou Lee
in HONG KONG; Editing by Richard Borsuk)