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Review into investments by SOEs

CHINA'S state-owned asset regulator will launch an investigation into investments made by centrally administered state-owned enterprises in the financial sector in a bid to help them avoid risks.

A total of 28 SOEs, including Air China, China Eastern Airlines and China COSCO Holdings Co, have invested in financial derivatives but most of them suffered losses.

The overriding concern of the SOEs, when they invest in financial derivatives, is to ensure they avoid risks and not to speculate, said Li Wei, vice director of the State-owned Asset Supervision and Administration Commission.

Air China lost 7.5 billion yuan (US$1.1 billion) on fuel-hedging contracts by the end of last year, and China Eastern's wrong-way bets on hedging dragged its revenue down 6.4 billion yuan.

Li said SOEs which plan to invest in financial derivatives must meet four conditions - abiding by hedging rules, hiring financial institutions for consultation, controlling risks and getting the commission's approval.

"SOEs are short of financial talent to deal in such investments, which led to an underestimation of risks and violations, so the commission will issue suggestions after an investigation," Li said.

He also urged local state-asset regulators to investigate locally administered SOEs.

The SOEs have seen their first annual decline in net profit last year since 2002, diving more than 30 percent from a year ago to 665.29 billion yuan.


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