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Stricter controls likely on SOE investments

By Bao Chang (China Daily)

08:36, March 12, 2013

Central State-owned enterprises should avoid excessive investment in what might be considered non-core activities, but must remain open to alternative business opportunities as their own industries contract.

This's according to Xu Baoli, a director at the research center of the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission, who told China Daily that a degree of caution is still paramount in any investment.

During its annual conference, involving 118 central SOEs' heads in December, SASAC demanded companies look to both diversify, but also consolidate their activities in 2013, in an effort to combat the effects of the economic slowdown.

Strongly influenced by weaker foreign market demand and protectionism, central SOEs have seen profits drop since early last year.

Although fortunes started to recover since the second half of last year, thanks mainly to effective measures on cost reduction, overall profit growth inevitably slowed for the whole year.

According to the latest figures, total profits at central SOEs were 1.3 trillion yuan ($209 billion) in 2012, an increase of 2.7 percent annually, but still well down on 6.4 percent growth in 2011.

Wang Yong, the commission's chairman, said that central SOEs are being encouraged to withdraw from any business or projects which are not key to their overall strategy.

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