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复旦大学经济学院金融学教授

复旦大学经济学院金融学教授,中国世界经济学会常务理事、复旦大学经济学院副院长、复旦大学中国经济国际竞争力创新基地常务副主任,复旦大学世界经济研究所副所长,《经济研究》匿名审稿人,比利时鲁汶大学应用经济系博士学位评审组成员、日本一桥大学国际共同研究中心兼职研究员.

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no such thing as cure-all (shanghai daily,2005)  

2006-11-23 23:12:52|  分类: 默认分类 |  标签: |举报 |字号 订阅

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Overseas listing does help Chinese banks improve in certain aspects, but it cannot fix a weak system. 

LISTING Chinese commercial banks on overseas stock markets is not a panacea for the ailing banking industry, which suffers from massive bad loans among other things.

Bank of Communications went public in Hong Kong on June 25. On its heels come China Construction Bank and China Minsheng Banking Corporation, which are preparing an IPO in Hong Kong for the end of this year.

Despite the euphoria over Bank of Communications’ successful listing, one must be aware that reform of the country’s banking industry requires more than just going public overseas.

One needs to think hard about what has created bad loans for Chinese banks.

A number of factors have contributed to the piling bad debts. For example, a lack of good corporate governance, corruption of senior bank officers and a lack of financial innovation all stand in the way of performance improvement.

Scholars have made five proposals to reform the banking sector: Restructuring state-owned commercial banks through changing shareholder structures; splitting big state-owned banks into smaller ones to enhance competition; developing local government banks; forging private banks and introducing good game rules from the Western market; and encouraging foreign capital to hold stakes in Chinese banks.

The government has largely combined the first and fifth suggestions and come up with the strategy of reforming the banks’ shareholder structures in preparation for overseas listing.

Such a strategy is in fact a response to the urgent need of Chinese banks to reform against a tight schedule of liberalization. China has agreed to further liberalize its banking sector next year as part of its WTO commitment.

But an overseas listing could be a double-edged sword. It may subject a Chinese bank to mature game rules of the overseas market, but there are market failures everywhere.

Even in a mature market, investors’ behavior may go astray and lead to a market failure.

Certainly an overseas listing can help a Chinese company in at least three ways: Lowering financing costs, improving corporate governance, and building the company’s reputation in China.

However, overseas listing has many pitfalls. One is that certain managers may want an IPO to realize self-interest rather than to better corporate governance or raise capital.

Some scholars in Hong Kong have found that H shares appear to be more speculative than the shares of Hong Kong companies. “H shares” are foreign shares issued by enterprises incorporated in the Chinese mainland, primarily listed in Hong Kong and traded in Hong Kong dollars.

If this is true, an overseas listing can’t be said to have improved corporate governance of a Chinese mainland company.

Another pitfall is that cultural differences between China and the country where a Chinese firm is listed may be so big as to drive a wedge between managers and investors.

In South Korea’s case, it is understood that exposure and subjection to US market rules have not necessarily solved deep-rooted problems in corporate governance in South Korea.

In many cases, a South Korean company listed in the US stock market may not perform as well as one listed in the domestic market. The reason is that cultural differences between managers and investors have worsened information asymmetry.

Bank of Communications has indeed set up a structure of governance in conformity to the prevailing international standard. But this is only similarity by appearance.

Chinese state-owned commercial banks have yet to come to the same level as international banking giants in terms of business and management thinking.

For it to be really successful, an IPO must be able to help China’s banking industry function well.

Whether the banking industry functions well in an economy depends on how well banks help realize price discovery, liquidity guarantee, risk sharing, information production, corporate governance and investment efficiency.

A desirable banking reform would entail coordinated performance of the six functions. Failure at any one point would scuttle the reform and increase financial risks.

Overseas listing does help Chinese banks improve in certain aspects, but it cannot fix a weak system.

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