THE Zhongshan hi-tech development zone is set to be the first among the 52 state hi-tech development zones to have its shares traded on the mainland stock exchange. The move constitutes part of the country's modernisation drive to transform state enterprises into shareholding structures and to listing status eventually. Mr Gong Yuting, chairman of the zone's development company, expected the company would be listed on the Shenzhen stock exchange early next year. ''The listing plan, already approved by Guangzhou authorities, is waiting for the final approval from Beijing,'' he said. So far the zone has housed 53 hi-tech enterprises. Included are 26 overseas-funded and 17 co-operative ventures between Guangdong and other parts of the country. The zone generated industrial output value totalling 219 million yuan (about HK$293 million) in the first half of this year, ranking first among 52 state hi-tech industrial development zones. The imminent flotation aims to raise about 250 million yuan (about HK$335 million) through the new shares issued, which account for 25 per cent of its enlarged capital. The introduction of the shareholding system earlier this year has enabled the zone to improve its economic efficiency greatly. It earned 160 million yuan from technology transfers, manufacturing production and trade in the first quarter of 1993, up 147 per cent from the previous year. Mr Gong said that the development company had been turned into a joint stock entity in January by issuing new shares to eight mainland financial institutions, with each contributing between 10 million and 30 million yuan. The original shareholder then maintained a 23 per cent stake in the new company. The idea of setting up a publicly-owned hi-tech development zone in Zhongshan originated from the State Council, which hoped to convert technology into commercial value and make the Zhongshan zone a test case for similar ventures' capital raising. Mr Xiao Yi, deputy general manager of the company, said that in the past the zone had relied heavily on government funding. ''In 1990, the zone obtained about 10 million yuan from Beijing for its capital expenditure. It only amounted to a total of about 60 million yuan in 1991 and 1992,'' he said. Realising that the funds were far from enough for the development of the hi-tech industrial zones, Beijing designated five of the country's national industrial zones for a joint stock system experiment. The other four zones are in Beijing, Chongqing, Wuhan and Shenyang. Meanwhile, Mr Xiao said that there were four other enterprises in Zhongshan seeking a listing on the Shenzhen bourse. With the new capital from the listing, the company is able to diversify into properties, securities and industrial development which include material, telecommunications equipment and bio-medicine. The Zhongshan development zone was established in 1991 and succeeded in erecting workshops and living facilities across an area of more than 500,000 square metres by the end of June, 1993. So far, about 30 per cent of the investment in the zone has come from Hong Kong and Macau, while the rest is from mainland enterprises. Mr Xiao expected to see more investment from Hong Kong and Macau as more overseas investors have recently shown a greater interest in buying into existing profit-making enterprises in the zone.