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Transformation of an industry

By Jiang Xueqing and Yang Wanli (China Daily)

16:03, May 14, 2012

Liao Hong, president and editor-in-chief of People.cn, is confident of future success. JIANG DONG / CHINA DAILY

For Liao Hong, who is in charge of the website of State-owned Party newspaper People's Daily, the last 10 days have been all about being in the spotlight and working under intense pressure.

As president and editor-in-chief of People.cn Co, Liao oversaw the company's IPO in Shanghai on April 27 as it became China's first major State-owned news website to list on the equity markets.

Like many other recently listed companies, People.cn received an enthusiastic welcome from investors. The company raised 1.38 billion yuan ($219 million), by selling about 69.11 million shares at 20 yuan apiece. It closed at 39.42 yuan on Friday, an increase of 97 percent from the issue price, and its market capitalization reached 10.9 billion yuan, almost twice that of The New York Times Co.

"We believe our company will develop more rapidly with the help of the capital," said Liao, during his first interview since the float, adding that the market capitalization of People.cn is almost the same as that of Sohu, one of China's three main Web portals.

A trend has developed, both in China and globally, for new media enterprises to list on the markets, according to Zhang Yanping, chairman of Beijing Media Corp and president of the Beijing Youth Daily newspaper.

"People.cn attracted investors not only because it is run by the most important Party newspaper in China, one that receives great support from the government, but also because it is able to change in accordance with the development trend of new media," said Zhang. "The company has set a good example for State-owned websites and will encourage many to follow."

In 2009, People.cn and nine other selected State-owned news websites - including Xinhua News Agency's Xinhuanet.com and CCTV.com, the Web presence of China Central Television - started a transformation from government institutions into media enterprises. The remaining nine are currently preparing to follow the IPO trail blazed by People.cn.

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