SHANGHAI, Aug. 21 (Xinhua) -- The country's first national-level private investment company, China Minsheng Investment, was established in Shanghai on Thursday.
Endorsed by the State Council, China's cabinet, in April, China Minsheng Investment has a registered capital of 50 billion yuan (8.1 billion U.S. dollars), funded by 59 private Chinese companies.
The 59 shareholders are all large-sized private companies, with combined assets of nearly 1 trillion yuan. They are involved in a range of businesses from machinery manufacturing, metallurgy, information technology, assets management, environmental protection, new energy, power generation and e-commerce.
The most shares any single company can own is 2 percent of China Minsheng Investment, and the bottom stake is no less than 0.6 percent.
Before China Minsheng Investment, China Investment Corp, the nation's sovereign wealth fund, was the only big national-level investment company.
China Minsheng Investment was initiated by the All-China Federation of Industry and Commerce, a non-governmental chamber of commerce which is viewed as a bridge between the private sector and government.
The establishment of this investment company came among repeated promises from the Chinese government to open more sectors to private investment.
"The inauguration of China Minsheng Investment is a milestone for the private economy in China, and it serves as a new testing ground for the private sector," said Chairman Dong Wenbiao, a financial veteran who was formerly chairman of China Minsheng Banking Corp.
Dong said China Minsheng Investment planned to set up several subsidiaries in key industries including new energy, international transportation, real estate, capital and logistics.
CEO Li Huaizhen said China Minsheng Investment would put an emphasis on China's domestic market, carefully choosing industries based on China's economic outlook and carrying out investment in good projects.
The Chinese government's reform plan to restructure ownership of State-owned enterprises to allow for greater private investment also represents an opportunity for China Minsheng Investment, in sectors such as energy, transportation, telecomm and public utilities, he said.
Li said the investment company is planning to set up London and Hong Kong offices, through which it seeks to cooperate with overseas financial institutions over investment and financing.
Wang Jun, a senior economist with the China Center for International Economic Exchanges, a government think tank, said the founding of China Minsheng Investment is significant in stabilizing confidence and spurring private investment as the Chinese economy is faced with downward pressure.
For a long time, China's investment relied heavily on the government and State-owned enterprises (SOEs), which Wang said is unsustainable given increasing debt incurred by the SOEs and local governments.
"Restructuring of the Chinese economy calls for more private investment and a bigger role by private capital," he said.
Growth of investment, one of the three drivers for the China's economy, started to decelerate in 2010, and continued in the first seven months of this year.
In the first seven months, growth of fixed asset investment by the private sector also decelerated to 19.6 percent year-on-year, 3.5 percentage points less than that for the whole 2013, official figures showed.
Wang said private capital could also help the government in easing the problem of overcapacity, a chronic headache for such industries as steel, photovoltaic power generation and shipbuilding.