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Friday, July 06, 2001, updated at 14:15(GMT+8)

Foreign Investors Sought for Asset Management

China is working out rules to encourage more foreign involvement in the rejuvenation of the country's 1.4 trillion yuan (US$168.6 billion) in non-performing assets.

The government is actively exploring new channels to attract foreign investors in the purchase and restructuring of part of the bad loans, said Premier Zhu Rongji in the working conference on utilizing foreign investment that ended on Wednesday in Beijing.

The enactment of special regulations to encourage such investment is expected soon.

Foreign investors will be encouraged to take part in the restructuring of domestic firms, said Zhu.

They can enter domestic businesses through takeovers and mergers as well as being given wider access in getting involved in non-performing loans taken over by China's four asset management companies (AMCs) from the four State banks. The companies were launched in 1999.

The AMCs have already been encouraging foreign investors to participate in taking over the management of bad assets by bidding for them or by private negotiation.

"Attracting foreign funds and domestic private capital are two major ways to regenerate delinquent assets," said Yi Gang, deputy secretary-general of the monetary policy committee of the People's Bank of China (PBOC), China's central bank.

The principle has been set and will not change. But China still lacks concrete regulations that designate details of the involvement of foreign funds in this area, such as how and where foreigners can get involved in projects to buy up bad assets, Yi said.

The rules should come out as soon as possible to clear away obstacles and heighten foreign investors' confidence, said Yi.

However, insiders said temporary regulations regarding the matter have been jointly drafted by several government departments including the central bank and the Ministry of Finance, which are waiting for final approval by the State Council.

An official with the Cinda Asset Management Co said that they are also expecting the regulations to facilitate further moves, though this might take some time.

Nevertheless, the company has already been trying out ways to attract foreign investment.

In addition to being encouraged to acquire such assets through leasing, foreign companies have been invited to purchase equity in domestic firms, whose debts owed to the State banks have been transferred to equity held by the AMCs in debt-for-equity swaps.

Such purchases should help getting these assets performing again, and a varied shareholding structure should also push domestic firms to improve performance, said Yi.

Source: China Daily

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China is working out rules to encourage more foreign involvement in the rejuvenation of the country's 1.4 trillion yuan (US$168.6 billion) in non-performing assets.

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