The announcement follows reports in state media
on Friday quoting unnamed sources saying the reform could happen
before the end of the year, with some saying it could come as
soon as December 25, but it appears the government moved even
more quickly than even insiders expected.
The China Securities Regulatory Commission, acting under
instructions from the State Council, will eliminate approval
procedures for applicant companies with 200 or fewer
The announcement also said institutional investors will be
encouraged to participate, in particular brokerages, insurance
companies, investment funds and foreign funds.
The move to ease access to the OTC market, which focuses on
facilitating private placements in smaller Chinese firms,
follows announcements that regulators will allow China's IPO
market to re-start in early 2014.
Beijing has been consistently trying to expand access to credit
for small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), which are
usually too small to list but at the same time are too risky for
Chinese banks to finance.
But analysts say initiatives such as OTC exchanges and
high-yield bonds designed for use by smaller companies have so
far been hamstrung by regulatory restrictions and lack of
investor interest, while efforts to force banks to lend to SMEs
have mostly backfired.
China's primary OTC market was originally launched in Beijing in
2006, with around 200 firms trading on the platform, and then
expanded to Shanghai.
Other Chinese cities and provinces have also announced plans to
create local platforms.
(Reporting by Pete Sweeney; editing
by Nick Macfie)
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