Mainland equities exchanges for non-public companies can expect busy times ahead as the central government spins off more non-core assets from state-owned heavyweights, economists and officials say. Aiming to fine-tune the businesses of the mainland's major state-owned conglomerates such as China Post and Sinopec, the government has been pushing through the sale of sideline businesses, creating a boon for officially designated equities trading bourses. As of June, the state asset watchdog has clarified the main businesses of 153 companies directly owned by the central government, and encouraged them to withdraw from non-core units. 'State stake sales on the equities exchanges under market rules ensure transparency and justice,' said Shanghai United Assets and Equity Exchange president Wu Hongbing. 'The exchanges will help deepen reforms through state share sales.' The Shanghai exchange is one of four trading platforms along with those in Beijing, Chongqing and Tianjin that are officially allowed to conduct asset sales by companies directly owned by the central government. In 1999, Beijing started to consider ceding control of the non-core assets of state-owned companies, and in 2003 the central government declared that the state dd not necessarily need to hold a controlling 51 per cent stake in all state-owned enterprises. However, fearing under-the-table deals would lead to erosion of state assets, the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission in March 2004 designated exchanges as official trading centres in a bid to step up oversight and regulation of transactions of government shares. The exchanges, as matchmakers for listed projects and potential bidders, are a catalyst for takeover deals involving state companies. 'The equities exchanges are a good addition to the country's capital market,' said Shanghai Realize Investment Consulting chief executive Zheng Peimin. 'When we have rules to follow, it is always good for long-term development.' The China Post Group, through the Shanghai exchange, sold 11 of its star-rated hotels to Hong Kong-based VXL Capital in June for 170 million yuan as part of moves to overhaul the gargantuan postal service provider. The Shanghai exchange conducted deals worth a combined 84.4 billion yuan in 2006, topping its domestic counterparts. But China Beijing Equity Exchange president Xiong Yan is aiming high. 'In Beijing, trade value will hit 200 billion or even 300 billion yuan in a few years because more state assets will flood the equities market,' he said in an early interview with the Shanghai Securities News. In the north, Beijing and Tianjin are competing against each other to become the region's trading hub for state shares. Beijing has an edge over Tianjin on geographic location because it is home to more central-level state-owned companies and financial institutions.