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China to launch railway development fund

Source:   Time:

BEIJING, July 8 (Xinhua) -- The Chinese government on Tuesday unveiled a guideline on management of a fledgling railway development fund to attract private investment into the railway sector.

The China Railway Development Fund of the China Railway Corporation (CRC), will last for 15 to 20 years and could be extended if approved by the State Council, according to the guideline jointly compiled by the National Development and Reform Commission, the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Transport.

The announcement of the guideline came after Sheng Guangzu, CRC general manager, said in April this year that China will increase railway fixed-asset investment to 720 billion yuan (about 117 billion U.S. dollars) in 2014.

According to a five-year plan from 2011 to 2015, 230,000 kilometers of new railway lines will be built in central and western regions, with an investment of 1.85 trillion yuan.

In July last year, the State Council proposed a fund to diversify the sources of railway investment and financing.

According to the guideline, the new fund will serve as a market entity for railway investment and financing. The CRC will represent government investment and be responsible for the daily management of the fund.

The CRC will sign agreements with private investors and propose the amount of annual fundraising.

As preferred-stock holders, social investors will enjoy "fixed and reasonable" returns according to agreed terms with CRC, but will not directly participate in the fund's management or distribution of residual profits. The CRC will cover any shortfall in agreed returns for investors if the fund fails to meet targets.

Social investors' shares can be traded one year after issue.

The fund must invest at least 70 percent of its capital in railway projects approved by the state, while the rest can be invested in business projects such as land development for higher returns.

The central government will inject capital into the fund through railway construction funds, fiscal appropriation and revenue from vehicle purchase taxes.

The fund will be banned from high-risk investments such as guarantees, futures or derivative financial products.

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