The heated battle for the mainland's financial readers is about to get a bit hotter. Big tobacco firm Ningbo Cigarettes is expected to invest about 40 million yuan (HK$37.79 million) in the International Finance News as part of an overhaul of the Shanghai-based publication, according to sources close to the paper. The east China office of the People's Daily, which controls the newspaper, will continue to be the major shareholder but Ningbo is expected to push for style and content changes in an increasingly competitive market. Senior executives at the newspaper confirmed the plans but declined to comment further, saying a statement would be made later. People's Daily officials declined to tip their hand about possible plans, one saying: 'How it will change is an internal matter.' The International Finance News publishes about 50,000 copies five days a week, a relatively small circulation that is largely confined to the banking sector. It is believed to have made a small profit last year after several years of losses, which helped convince former major shareholder Anhui International Trust to back out in favour of the People's Daily. The newspaper is expected to beef up its lean editorial staff to expand coverage of corporate news. That could put it more directly in competition with some of the livelier business publications, such as weeklies like the 21st Century Herald and the Economic Observer as well as the Caijing group of publications. It also has the stodgier but official dailies to contend with, such as the Financial News, the main securities newspapers such as the China Securities Journal and the Shanghai Securities News, along with a local publication, the Shanghai Financial News. The reorganisation comes at the same time as modest reform of media ownership, in which Beijing has allowed private interests to invest in a number of publications in less sensitive areas. Ningbo Cigarettes - better known as Da Hongying - will be a fairly safe partner in the International Finance News. It is a state-run company that will gain a role in business decisions but will not determine content. The People's Daily is also bringing in at least one staffer with experience at one of its most successful publications, the Global Times. That feisty bi-weekly has attracted a big following and made substantial profits. Ningbo Cigarettes is one of the most profitable tobacco companies in the mainland. Officials at the company declined to discuss details of the plan.