Asia's best companies 2001 - China

FinanceAsia congratulates the winners of the best managed company awards in this year''s Best Companies survey. Over the next week, we will be featuring the results from 10 countries in Asia. Today we look at China''s results.

This survey covers the performance of the top companies in 10 countries in Asia. Investors and other executives from financial centers such as Hong Kong, Singapore, New York and London are among those who participated in this survey. We had 497 votes.

Best Managed Company, Best in Investor Relations - China Mobile

Best Managed Company, Best E-Commerce Strategy, Most Committed to Shareholder Value -Legend

 Best Managed Company - China 
1China Mobile35
3China Resources15
6Phoenix TV9
7Brilliance China8
8China Everbright4
8China Unicom4
10Beijing Datang Power Generation3
12China Vanke2
12Shanghai Fudan Microelectronics2
China Mobile, China’s biggest mobile phone company, and Legend Holdings, its biggest computer maker, tied for first place in the best managed company category and were either first or second in the other three categories.

China Mobile last year pulled off the biggest ever sale of equity by a state-owned company, raising $6.6 billion in stock and $600 million in convertible bonds to pay for a new wireless network. The sale came as stock markets around the world were plunging in the wake of the bursting tech stock bubble.

“China Mobile consistently provides international standards of disclosure to investors and manages its business for the benefit of its shareholders, rather than the usual practice which is to manage for the benefit of the Chinese bureaucracy,” said one voter.

Legend Holdings is equally highly regarded. The company, which operates in one of the world’s fastest-growing markets for computers, posted a net profit of HK$248.5 million ($31.9 million) in the quarter ended December 31, up 69% from the year-earlier period. Sales in the same quarter rose to HK$7.7 billion from HK$5.1 billion in the same period a year ago. Unlike developed countries such as the US, where demand for personal computers is slowing, in China, Legend can barely keep up with demand.

Personal computer penetration in China last year was about 0.65% compared with 50% in the US. While the global market for PCs as a whole is expected to grow 16% this year, China’s market is expected to grow 37%; that will keep Legend on its toes. The company shipped two million computers in the first nine months of the fiscal year and expects that figure to have reached 2.5 million at the end of March. The company plans to increase production capacity this year to 4.5 million units by building a new plant in Shanghai. It is also about to open a new plant in Beijing.

Legend beat China Mobile to the post in the categories of Best E-commerce Strategy and Best Commitment to Shareholder Value, while China Mobile nabbed the top spot in the Best Investor Relations category.

Legend’s commitment to building shareholder value manifests itself in its decision to spin off Digital China, a unit that distributes electronics and computer products. While maintaining an ownership level of 57%, the company will give the remaining shares in the unit to existing stockholders. The spin-off, according to management, will allow it to focus more sharply on its main business.

In investor relations, China Mobile won points for its standards of corporate governance.

“The company has the best appreciation of investors’ interests and the most open disclosure of all Chinese companies,” said one voter.

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