SHENZHEN'S municipal government is due to launch its first training course for mainland investment consultants on international practices in mergers and acquisitions. The trainers are from Wheelock NatWest, an investment banking joint venture between Britain's NatWest Markets and Hong Kong's Wheelock and Co, and accountancy firm Peat Marwick. NatWest Markets is the investment banking arm of Britain's National Westminster Bank. The four-day training course will end on Friday. The first batch of about 60 trainees would be introduced to the role played by international investment banking groups and other participants in mergers and acquisitions, a marketing official from Shenzhen's commission for restructuring the economy said. Trainees would also be taught the most common practices adopted in mergers and acquisitions and about the customer network of the world's top investment banking groups. Analysts said mergers and acquisitions were gaining importance in China because they provided a channel to invigorate unlisted firms by allowing their shares to be traded in a more regulated manner. Shares in unlisted companies were now bought and sold on a smaller scale through property rights exchanges or direct transactions between buyers and sellers, they said. To speed up mergers and acquisitions, Shenzhen has introduced a licensing system allowing authorised dealers to match prospective buyers with sellers of shares in unlisted companies. Those who complete the training will become authorised dealers. Ten Shenzhen intermediaries, from brokerages to listed companies and trust companies, have been licensed as dealers, including China Securities, J&A Securities, China Merchants Bank, Vanke Financial Service, and Shenzhen Property Rights Exchange.