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News from China
Rich Chinese see grass is greener for returns overseas
24th June 2016

 MORE rich Chinese are expected to send their assets overseas for better investment returns as the economy continues to open up, according to a report.

It is estimated that the proportion of Chinese individual assets to be allocated overseas will increase from the current 4.8 percent to about 9.4 percent in the next five years, with the assets under management of overseas investment rising to 13 trillion yuan (US$2 trillion), according to the 2016 China Wealth Report jointly released by the Industrial Bank and The Boston Consulting Group.

The proportion of personal wealth allocated to foreign assets is lower in China than in other countries.

As the Chinese economy continues to open, however, the proportion will increase thanks to liberal regulations and growing interest in overseas investment.

The report revealed that, despite a slowing Chinese economic growth, the wealth of high-net-worth individuals with investable assets of more than 6 million yuan is rising steadily.

China’s high-net-worth families will reach 3.88 million by 2020 and their investable financial assets will then account for 51 percent of China’s individual wealth. The country’s continuous economic globalization will drive the HNWIs to shift from domestic wealth allocation to global wealth allocation.

The rise of China’s HNWIs offers great opportunities for the development of private banking businesses, the report said.

However, there is an undersupply of private banking services. China’s private banking institutions manage under 20 percent of the wealth of high net worth families, which implies huge opportunities for development, according to Chen Jinguang, vice president of the Industrial Bank.

Source: Shanghai Daily, June 24, 2016
Singapore puts yuan in reserves
23rd June 2016

 SINGAPORE’S central bank said yesterday it will make financial investments in the yuan as part of its official foreign reserves from June, reflecting the yuan’s increasing global acceptance.

The Monetary Authority of Singapore said its decision "recognizes the steady and calibrated liberalization of China’s financial markets, and the growing acceptance of (yuan) assets in the global portfolio of institutional investors".

MAS has been making financial investments in the yuan since 2012, under a scheme that allows foreign institutional investors to buy equities and bonds listed on China's exchanges.

It also buys bonds in China's over-the-counter bond trading market, which was opened to foreign central banks in 2010

While the investments were part of MAS' foreign assets, they were excluded when computing the foreign reserves because of restrictions on the repatriation of the funds, the MAS said.

But "over the past year, China has taken significant steps to liberalize access to its foreign exchange and securities markets for foreign institutional investors," it said in a statement.

"For example, access to China’s interbank bond market was granted to most foreign institutional investors, and investment quotas were eliminated," it added.

"Restrictions on inbound and outbound remittances have been lifted and no prior approval is now required for the repatriation of funds invested in China’s interbank bond market."

Singapore's official foreign reserves totaled US$248 billion as of end 2015, data from the MAS website showed.

Source: Shanghai Daily, June 23, 2016
Chinese firm gets more time to sell stake
22nd June 2016

 AUSTRALIA has granted a three-year extension for a Chinese company to reduce its 80 percent stake in Australian cotton farm Cubbie Station after it indicated it could not meet the October 2015 deadline.

Australia approved the sale of Cubbie Station to a consortium comprising Shandong Ruyi Scientific & Technological Group Co — 80 percent — and local company Lempriere — 20 percent — on the provision that the textile manufacturer would reduce its holdings to 51 percent within three years.

Though foreign ownership of Australian farmland is a sensitive political issue, heightened in the current general election, Australian Treasurer Scott Morrison granted the extension as a reflection of the “genuine undertakings” Shandong Ruyi had made to reduce its interest.

“It also recognizes the fact Ruyi has met the other undertakings placed on it through the FIRB approval process,” Morrison said yesterday.

Australian agriculture lobby groups however are concerned about the inconsistent messages coming from Australian authorities over foreign investment into farmland after a Chinese consortium was prohibited from purchasing arid cattle producer S. Kidman & Co, Australia’s largest land holding.

“The industry’s quite happy to have a firm ‘yes’ or ‘no,’ but they need to know before they go into the due diligence or analysis or the proposal of a purchase as to what the rules are,” Agribusiness Australia spokesman Tim Burrows told Australia’s National Broadcaster.

“We can’t have a situation where the rules change many months after the investor’s started looking at the project or the proposal.”

Australia in February changed its regulatory framework for foreign investor purchases into agriculture, slashing the threshold for Australia’s Foreign Investment Review Board approval to A$15 million (US$11.2 million).

Source: Shanghai Daily, June 22, 2016
Tighter scrutiny may slow China’s appetite for overseas acquisitions
21st June 2016

 IN less than six months of 2016, China’s appetite for overseas acquisitions has outpaced last year’s record, as mainland buyers chase global assets such as real estate, chemicals and high-end technology.

China National Chemical Corp’s US$43 billion bid for Swiss agrichemicals maker Syngenta makes up almost 40 percent of this year’s US$111.6 billion total, but even without that deal the pace has quickened.

Bankers and lawyers say there could, however, be some slowdown in the second half, as mainland buyers face heightened scrutiny at home and abroad.

China International Capital Corp, the country’s biggest investment bank, expects outbound deals to hit US$150 billion this year.

Chinese acquirers announced US$111.5 billion worth of deals in 2015 from 632 transactions, according to Thomson Reuters data. Completed deals, on which banks are paid fees, last year stood at US$73 billion, compared with US$45.6 billion so far this year.

Some recent Chinese technology deals have met with opposition, however, which could turn some buyers cautious. Midea Group Co’s efforts to buy out German industrial robot maker Kuka provoked political concerns in Germany, and the company has had to offer numerous guarantees on preserving local sites and jobs.

“We expect outbound M&A activities will continue to rise, but not at the nose-bleeding rate of the first quarter of 2016,” said David Wu, head of corporate finance for China at ING Bank.

China’s desire to temper the outflow of its foreign reserves, which dropped more than half a trillion dollars last year, could also curb deals.

Lawyers say the State Administration of Foreign Exchange, the custodian of the country’s US$3.19 trillion reserves, is anxious that the deal outflows could weigh on the yuan.

“SAFE canceled the formal approval process for outbound transactions some time ago, but they are monitoring flows going out quite carefully, given the recent surge in money leaving the country,” said Andrew McGinty, a partner at Shanghai-based partner at law firm Hogan Lovells International.

Uncertainty surrounding the outcome of this week’s referendum in Britain over its membership of the European Union and the upcoming US presidential elections in November are also factors likely to slow Chinese overseas purchases, bankers say.

After many years of focusing on the booming domestic economy, Chinese firms are increasingly looking to diversify their revenues as growth at home slipped to a 25-year low.

Other big purchases announced by China Inc this year include HNA Group’s US$6.3 billion acquisition of Ingram Micro Inc and Haier Group’s US$5.4 billion bid for General Electric Co’s appliances unit.

“Whether it be from the private sector, government or even middle market firms, this expansion is strategic and long-term focused,” said John Kim, head of M&A, Asia ex-Japan at Goldman Sachs.

“The appetite is particularly voracious for technology, media, health care and financial services, and for the foreseeable future it won’t be going away,” he added.

Source: Shanghai Daily, June 21, 2016

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