BEIJING (Reuters) - Reducing debt and curbing risks remain priorities for China's state-owned firms, the head of the country's state assets regulator said on Saturday, as Beijing continues its restructuring and deleveraging efforts.
State-owned firms would be pushed to improve their asset quality and boost their equity capital, Xiao Yaqing, chairman of the State Assets Supervision and Administration Commission, told reporters on the sidelines of China's annual meeting of parliament.
The regulator also would seek to use debt-for-equity swaps to further reduce debt at state-owned companies, he added.
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In 2015, Beijing introduced reforms to its state-owned industrial sector aimed at strengthening central government-owned enterprises, while introducing more professional management systems such as the adoption of boards of directors.
Xiao said those reforms would quicken.
The sector reported a rebound last year, with enterprises owned by China's central government showing profit growth of 15.2 percent, to 1.4 trillion yuan ($221.2 billion), the fastest in five years.
Total profit from China's central government-owned firms for the first two months of 2018 rose 22.6 percent from a year earlier to 266.7 billion yuan ($42.1 billion), Xiao said.
($1 = 6.3285 Chinese yuan renminbi)
(Reporting by Xiaochong Zhang, Matthew Miller and Shu Zhang; Writing by Se Young Lee; Editing by Stephen Coates)