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State-owned COFCO gets approval for reform plans

2015-02-16 09:54 Global Times/Agencies Web Editor: Qin Dexing

China's biggest agribusiness firm China National Cereals, Oils and Foodstuffs Corp (COFCO) has received government approval to move forward with its restructuring plans, media reported over the weekend.

COFCO, which was selected in July 2014 as one of six central government controlled State-owned enterprise (SOE) groups to pilot mixed-ownership reforms, is working with the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission (SASAC), newspaper China Securities Journal reported.

SASAC is the ministry-level body that directly oversees China's 112 central government-controlled conglomerates.

The Chinese government is soon expected to release its top planning documents aimed at boosting the performance and efficiency of the country's massive State sector.

The plan is widely expected to reduce the number of central government-controlled enterprise groups to fewer than 60.

China's top two train makers CNR Corp and CSR Corp announced in December they would merge to become a $26 billion new company.

No details were provided about COFCO's overhaul.

The government's SOE restructuring plan is likely to be released after the annual meetings of China's parliament, the National People's Congress, and its advisory body, the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, the Economic Information Daily said on Friday.

The two meetings will take place in March.

Key reform measures are likely to include the introduction of mixed-ownership arrangements by attracting private and foreign investors, restructuring and merging SOEs, and the use of more stock market listings, the newspaper said.

On Wednesday, China's top antigraft agency said it is targeting 26 of the biggest central SOE groups for its first round of inspections this year.

COFCO, which Moody's has described as a "role model" for SOEs, is one of a handful of State companies chosen by the authority to lead the reforms.

The company has swallowed several smaller domestic firms in recent years as China's modernizing agriculture sector drives consolidation.

COFCO is taking full control of State-owned China Huafu Trade and Development Group, which manages Chinese reserves of foodstuffs such as sugar and meat.

In April 2014, COFCO bought a majority stake in Noble Group Ltd's agribusiness for $1.5 billion.

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