The flagship newspaper of China's Communist party said Thursday it would raise 527 million yuan (US$84 million) by listing its website, becoming the first government news portal to tap the stock market.
People's Daily Online, operator of the website for the People's Daily, will issue 69.1 million shares, it said in a statement to the Shanghai Stock Exchange, where the company will be listed.
China is pushing state media giants to list on the stock market in a bid to make them operate on more commercial terms amid growing competition from upstart Internet companies, which also have news operations.
Up to 10 state-owned media websites – including those of the People's Daily and the Xinhua news agency – are reportedly planning domestic stock listings.
"There is a strong political significance to it," Zhang Qi, an analyst at Haitong Securities, told AFP. "The move signals China's long-term support for the sector to restructure and seek listings."
People's Daily Online said it would use the proceeds to upgrade technology and editorial systems, as well as expanding its products delivered through wireless devices, to become more competitive.
Social media, such as microblogs similar to Twitter, as well as online news offerings, such as websites operated by Chinese Internet giants Sina and Sohu, are challenging staid state media for readers and viewers.
"There's a big gap between news portals and commercial websites, and only by enhancing efforts towards investment, recruitment and marketing will the news portals increase competitiveness," People's Daily Online said in the statement.
But analysts said government-backed news portals still faced fierce competition after listing, even if welcomed by investors.
People's Daily Online said it would start promoting the offer Friday before selling shares to investors from April 17.
The company – which operates website www.people.com.cn – formally announced plans to list in January.