Caijing publisher plans to increase its titles through joint ventures or licensing SEEC Holdings, which publishes the financial magazine Caijing, is in final negotiations with four global publishing firms to expand its portfolio of consumer-driven publications. Wang Boming, chairman of SEEC and main-board listed SEEC Media, did not name the foreign parties, but said discussions had been ongoing since last year and had progressed to negotiations over financial terms. Since its establishment in 1998, Caijing has won a fiercely loyal readership through its investigative business reporting and willingness to tackle controversial topics such as corporate fraud and abuses of power. Mr Wang said that agreements would take the form of joint ventures or licensing. 'We also plan to acquire some foreign titles and launch Chinese editions in mainland and overseas markets,' he said. 'If a publication brings in earnings, we will transfer the advertising rights into the listed vehicle.' Chinese regulations prohibit listed companies from owning editorial operations, but they can own advertising and distribution rights. SEEC's growth is predicated on a booming advertising market in China, worth more than US$15 billion last year. Magazines accounted for only 3 per cent of the total but had the highest growth rate compared with television, newspapers and outdoor advertising. 'Our business is magazines, magazines and magazines,' said Mr Wang. 'We won't consider other media businesses until we become the country's biggest magazine group,' he said, adding he hoped to achieve this in three years. In November, SEEC disposed of exclusive advertising rights in China Business Post for $42.15 million in order to focus on magazine advertising operations. This year, it will to set up a 50:50 joint venture with Ziff Davis Media to launch the Chinese editions of PC Magazine and E Week. It has also signed a multi-year licensing agreement with Meredith to publish a Chinese-language edition of Better Homes and Gardens, which has 38 million monthly readers in the United States, in the second half of the year. 'Demand for consumer magazines is surging fast with China's bourgeoning middle-class population,' Mr Wang said. 'We will bring in more titles like city guides and entertainment magazines. Such consumer-driven publications should account for half of our earnings in the long run.' The firm this week reported net profits of $53.1 million for last year, up from $28.25 million in 2003. Excluding one-off gains, earnings rose 22.5 per cent to $22.4 million. The company had cash and time deposits amounting to $102.5 million at the end of last year.