China coal companies shift in direction to battle slump
Loss-making coal companies are diversifying their business portfolios, some in imaginative ways, as China pushes on toward structural reform aimed at reducing industrial overcapacity. For instance, some have been looking to tap into the beef retail market, the medical sector or online gaming industry, media reported on Wednesday.
But too many firms remain "on thin ice", said one analyst, because of the industry's excess supplies and insufficient demand.
At least 19 of the country's 37 listed coal miners are now expected to fall into the red in 2015, according to financial statistics provider Wind Information. And it predicts that very few of the other 18 will turn a profit in the foreseeable future.
So far, only Jizhong Energy Group, a State-owned energy company based in Hebei province, has reported growth, according to its latest annual report. The ongoing global slump in commodity and oil prices weighed heavily on the stock prices of listed resource- and commodity-related companies, including coal and steel producers. An index that tracks listed coal producers in Shanghai and Shenzhen dropped by 5.39 percent while the index tracks steel producers declined by 5.75 percent.
Xinjiang Baihuacun Co, a coal mining and coking subsidiary of Xinjiang Production and Construction Corp, is now on the brink of being delisted from the stock exchange due to its heavy losses.
But the company has revealed it has set its sites, too, on the healthcare industry after buying Nanjing Huawe Medicine Technology Development Co, a business founded in 2000 which provides research and technical services. Baihuacun's dramatic shift in direction is being repeated elsewhere in the sector.
Shandong-based Yanzhou Coal Mining Co Ltd has released plans to purchase 400 million shares from the IPO of China Zheshang Bank Co on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.
Yankuang Group Co Ltd has signed a strategic agreement with meat processor Delisi to build an online platform to sell high-quality meat and dairy products.
While Jinrui Minerals Co, based in Qinghai province, has bought online game developer Chengdu More Fun, in an effort to diversify its revenue resources.
"Excess production capacity is only going to disappear through severe competition," said Jiang Yaodong, vice-president of China University of Mining and Technology.
"Further consolidation of resources and wider merger and acquisition will accelerate the process." His prediction is, it will take five years for the coal sector to see any significant signs of recovery.