State-owned firms pledge more cuts to production capacity
BEIJING — China’s central State-owned enterprises have pledged to continue to cut production overcapacity in some industrial sectors, aiming to reduce steel capacity by 5.95 million metric tons and coal by 24.73 million tons.
“Detailed plans have been made by central SOEs,” said an insider who wanted to be anonymous.
China Huaneng Group said it was considering cutting 9.14 million tons of coal production capacity by the end of 2018 while dealing with 16 of the group’s “zombie companies”.
Zombie companies are economically unviable businesses, usually in industries, with severe overcapacity, which only survive due to financing from the government and banks.
China Poly Group Corp, a Staterun conglomerate, vowed to close inefficient coal mines and reorganize 39 of its subordinate companies to improve profits.
The latest efforts by the central SOEs will reinforce their achievements made in 2016 in reducing overcapacity.
Last year, the central SOEs eliminated steel production capacity by more than 10.19 million tons and coal capacity by 34.97 million tons, both beating annual targets.
The capacity cut drive by central SOEs is only a part of China’s bigger picture in slashing overcapacity.
The country aims to curtail steel production capacity by around 50 million tons and coal by at least 150 million tons this year, a key part of the country’s supply-side structural reform.
To improve its growth quality and efficiency, China began its supply-side structural reform in 2015 to cut overcapacity, reduce inventory, deleverage, lower costs and strengthen weak links.
“China’s SOE reform is an important link in pushing forward supply-side structural reform,” said Li Jin, chief researcher of the China Enterprise Research Institute.
Realizing the significance of SOEs to the country’s sustainable growth, China launched a series of
Li Jin, chief researcher of the China Enterprise Research Institute
reforms including cutting capacity, managing zombie companies, and calling for innovation among these companies.
Overcapacity, poor corporate governance and low productivity had dragged down profits of China’s SOEs, which deteriorated in 2015.
In 2016, China’s central SOEs cut 2,730 subsidiaries and saved 4.91 billion yuan ($713.4 million) in management costs, according to the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission.
Thanks in part to the efforts, central SOEs saw profits rise slightly. Growth last year picked up from a 5.6 percent decrease in 2015.
In 2016, central SOEs made total profits of 1.23 trillion yuan, up 0.5 percent year-on-year, according to the SOE watchdog.
This year, China pledged to deepen SOE reform, promising measures such as introducing a mixed ownership system and more efforts to make SOEs leaner, healthier and perform better.
China has 102 centrally administered SOEs, which manage the bulk of the country’s State assets.
The improving figures of the SOEs contributed to the country’s broader economy, which has shown more signs of stabilizing since the second half of 2016, with indicators including factory prices and industrial profits seeing significant improvements.