Fri, Sep 07, 2007 - Page 11 News List

National BlueStar Group units suspend share trade


China National BlueStar Group Corp's three publicly traded units suspended trading in their shares, saying their parent is in talks on "a major issue."

Reporting from Dalian, the Daily Telegraph newspaper said yesterday that Blackstone Group LP was close to an agreement to buy a stake in BlueStar, a Beijing-based chemicals maker. An announcement was likely within days, the newspaper said, citing people familiar with the talks.

Blue Star Cleaning Co, Shenyang Chemical Industry Co and Blue Star New Chemical Material Co announced the suspensions in separate filings to the Shanghai and Shenzhen stock exchanges yesterday.

BlueStar is in talks with a "relevant party," they said.

The South China Morning Post said on June 20 that Blackstone was in talks to buy 30 percent of BlueStar for about US$500 million. The purchase would mark the US buyout firm's first big transaction in China after the government agreed to take a 10 percent stake in Blackstone's initial public offering, the Post said, citing unidentified people.

In the wake of increasing foreigners' purchases of Chinese companies, a central bank official said China should accelerate the development of local private-equity firms.

Deputy Governor Wu Xiaoling (吳曉靈) cited current and capital-account surpluses and "growing concern" about foreign companies' acquisitions in China.

Her speech was delivered yesterday by another bank official at an investment forum in southeastern Xiamen.

"Setting up domestic private-equity funds can help utilize the excess liquidity in China's market and in the meantime reduce the pressure of foreign-exchange increases from foreign direct investment," Wu said.

Beijing is trying to tame money-supply growth as record trade surpluses pump cash into the financial system, threatening to overheat the world's fourth-biggest economy.

Some officials also see foreign companies' acquisitions as a threat and regulators have rejected purchases by Goldman Sachs Group Co and Carlyle Group.

"In the face of China's surpluses in the current and capital accounts and growing concern over foreign acquisitions, this is a special opportunity to accelerate the development of China's yuan-denominated private equity funds," Wu said.

Her "personal opinions" do not reflect the policies of the People's Bank of China, she said.

Domestic private-equity funds can also give commercial banks, insurers and pension funds another avenue for investing to boost their returns, Wu said.

The Chinese government should allow the establishment of joint-venture private-equity funds to let local managers learn from foreign partners, Wu said.

"If foreign investors own less than a 25 percent stake, those ventures can be considered and regulated as domestic companies," the central banker said.

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