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Capital Markets

China's new local asset exchanges

Amid the roll-out of China's vast privatization programme international attention is focused on the transfers of big state-owned enterprises. But the ownership of thousands of other smaller operations is being changed via hundreds of small, local asset exchanges. Regulation of these is being beefed up. Chris Leahy reports.

PRIVATIZING CHINA IS not all about glitzy roadshows for IPOs of large state-owned enterprises (SOEs) on international exchanges. Away from the limelight there are thousands of smaller SOEs which will never get to ring the bell at the NYSE.

As the privatization of the creaking state-owned assets continues, the government has relied increasingly on little-known asset exchanges to carry out transfers from public to private ownership.

A recent central government initiative is likely to see the emergence of new super exchanges, the first of which has just started business in Beijing.

The China Beijing Equity Exchange, or CBEX was opened for business on Valentine's day, February 14. The result of a merger between Zhongguancun Technology & Equity Exchange and Beijing Asset and Equity Exchange, CBEX is the only non-public equity exchange market authorized by the Beijing municipal government.

It may be the newest kid on the block, but CBEX has plenty of older siblings. China already has around 170 assets and equity exchanges for the trading of non-listed companies. These exchanges act as local platforms or market places through which state-owned assets and enterprises may be purchased by private enterprises.

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