Sichuan firms eye board for minnows

At least 10 Sichuan-based privately owned enterprises are seriously considering listing on Hong Kong's proposed Growing Enterprise Market (GEM), according to Tai Fook Securities Group managing director Peter Wong Shiu-hoi.

After meeting 70 large-scale private enterprises and officials, including from the Sichuan Securities Regulatory Office, earlier this week, Mr Wong said interested enterprises included pharmaceutical and construction materials makers and optical fibre network providers.

The stock exchange plans to launch the GEM in the fourth quarter of this year as a way for smaller companies to raise funds which have yet to meet listing requirements for the main board.

'The GEM is a handy alternative as many private companies used to head for Nasdaq in the US,' Mr Wong said.

Mr Wong said Sichuan officials had been encouraging private enterprises to seek overseas financing, including flotations in Hong Kong.

'We believe more enterprises will be interested in the GEM when regulations are promulgated,' Mr Wong said.

'Fundamentals of many private companies in the mainland are better than third- or fourth-liners in Hong Kong.'