Air China says Beijing green-lights ownership reforms of cargo business

SHANGHAI, April 22 (Reuters) - Air China Ltd

has received the green light from Beijing

to push ahead with mixed-ownership reform of its air freight

logistics business, the firm said late on Friday, signalling a

potential shake-up of China's cargo carrier market.

In a filing to the Hong Kong stock exchange the carrier said

its state-owned parent, China National Aviation Holding Company

(CNAHC), had received the approval from China's top state

planner, the National Development and Reform Commission.

China's long-awaited mixed ownership reforms will allow

private capital to invest in firms run directly by the central

government, and are part of an ambitious revamp of the country's

sclerotic and debt-ridden state sector.

"CNAHC will start to push forward the mixed-ownership reform

in air freight logistics," it said, adding the move would likely

affect the listed company and some of its subsidiary firms.

Domestic media has previously reported China's top airline

freight carriers could merge to form a cargo transport giant.

An official at the Civil Aviation Administration of China

told the official Xinhua news agency in 2015 that Air China

Cargo, China Cargo Airlines and China Southern Cargo could be

combined.

Earlier this month the news agency reported China would soon

release details of ambitious ownership reform plans at central

government-owned firms, including telecom giant China Unicom and

China Eastern Airlines.

The central government, which has made mixed ownership

reform one of its priorities, currently owns and administers 102

enterprises in sectors from nuclear technology to medicine.

This week, China's cabinet endorsed guidelines by the

country's state planner to reduce leverage in the corporate

sector and push forward with mixed-ownership reforms at

state-owned enterprises this year.

(Reporting by Adam Jourdan; Editing by Jacqueline Wong)