Special Price: Chinese State Firms for Sale

A CHINESE province is offering 33 state-run enterprises for sale to foreign investors in a bid to boost the local economy, official news media report.

Sichuan Province tried earlier to unload several money-losing state enterprises to investors in Hong Kong and elsewhere, reportedly with little success. The China News Service said Tuesday that the latest batch to be put on sale comprises companies that are profitable or have strong potential.

Half of all China's state factories were unable to break even in the first quarter of 1994. They require subsidies that are a huge drain on state coffers, but authorities have been loathe to let them go bankrupt for fear of sparking unrest by laid-off workers.

Allowing foreigners to buy select factories is an attempt to reinvigorate industries such as electronics, chemical engineering, and pharmaceuticals, the China News Service said.

The report said the factories have total fixed assets originally valued at $414 million and net worth of $276 million. They employ 77,000 workers.

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