MNCs in the News-2017-09-29

China

China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) stated that China will adopt a nationwide negative list potentially as early as 2018. It noted a negative list “‘lays an important foundation for market [sic] to play a decisive role in resource allocation.’” The approach already has been tested in places like Fujian, Guangdong, and Shanghai and will be tested in other places like Zhejiang. It is part of China’s effort to attract foreign firms though a better investment environment, greater market access, and new/enhanced protections and incentives (“Economic Watch: Nationwide Negative List to Spur Foreign Investment,” Xinhuanet, September 24, 2017, http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2017-09/24/c_136634555.htm)

At a recent press conference, Chinese officials stressed “China welcomes foreign enterprises to take part in the country’s mixed-ownership reform.” Peng Huagang, Deputy Secretary-General of the State Council’s State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission (SASAC), said SASAC was “‘currently conducting research on the third batch of mixed-ownership reform pilots.’” SASAC is testing mixed-ownership reform on 19 enterprises in sectors like electricity, oil and gas, and railways. Xiao Yaqing, the head of SASAC, stated “the reform has achieved good results, but needs more time to further progress” (Jing Shuiyu, “Foreign Companies Welcome in SOE Reform,” China Daily, September 28, 2017, http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/business/2017-09/28/content_32598748.htm)

The United States (US) has submitted a document to the World Trade Organization (WTO) Services Council asking China not to implement its cyber security law, which would mandate companies submit their hardware and software to security checks, store user data in China, and get approval for certain data transfers. The US argues China’s measures—which also includes the July 2015 National Security Law—would “‘disrupt, deter, and, in many cases, prohibit cross-border transfers of information that are routine in the ordinary course of business’” (Tom Miles, “U.S. Asks China Not to Enforce Cyber Security Law,” Reuters, September 26, 2017, http://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-usa-china-cyber-trade/u-s-asks-china-no...)

An investment group including Tencent Holdings Inc. (China), NavInfo Co. (China), and Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund terminated its bid for a 10 percent stake in Netherland’s Here International NV because of opposition by the US Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS). Here “is developing three-dimensional maps for self-driving vehicles and location-based services used by online and logistics companies.” NavInfo Co. already cooperates with Here and plans a 50-50 joint venture (JV) with the latter in China (Zhang Qi and Denise Jia, “U.S. Vetoes China Bid for Minority Stake in Mapping Company Here,” Caixin, September 27, 2017, http://www.caixinglobal.com/2017-09-28/101151402.html)

Japan

Japan’s Kobe Steel Ltd and the US Steel Corp. announced a USD $400 million joint venture (JV) to build a galvanized steel production plant in the US state of Ohio. The JV aims to produce lighter, stronger steel for use by American and Japanese automakers in wake of tightening emissions standards from the governments of both countries. The partnership will provide lighter car frames that will assist carmakers in meeting new fuel efficiency regulations (“Kobe Steel, U.S. Steel to boost U.S. automotive steel output,” Japan Today, September 27, 2017, https://japantoday.com/category/business/Kobe-Steel-U.S.-Steel-to-boost-...)

Japan's Sumitomo Corporation has invested USD $300 million in Taiwanese electric scooter producer Gogoro to better integrate electronic battery technology into its businesses. Growing environmental concerns have led governments around the world to impose tighter emissions standards, increasing the need for advanced electronic batteries. Besides bringing Taiwanese electric scooters to the Japanese market, Sumitomo will supply Gogoro's batteries to Japanese carmakers like Toyota Motor Corp and Nissan Motor Co. as these companies look to boost investment in electric vehicles (“Taiwan's Gogoro plans to ride into Japan, to offer battery-sharing infrastructure,” Reuters, September 28, 2017, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-gogoro-strategy/taiwans-gogoro-plans-...)

South Korea

South Korean cosmetics company Carver Korea has been acquired by Dutch-British consumer goods company Unilever for USD $2.7 billion following declining sales in China. Carver Korea has suffered after Chinese economic sanctions from Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile battery installation reduced its Chinese market access, allowing Unilever to purchase the otherwise sound business and absorb its products. Investment entities believe Unilever plans to relaunch Carver’s formulas and premier products in China under a new brand to take advantage of the skin care boom (Choi Mun-hee, “Unilever Acquires Korean Makeup Company for $2.7 Billion,” BusinessKorea, September 26, 2017, http://www.businesskorea.co.kr/english/news/industry/19425-k-beauty-powe...)

Hyundai Motor Group, a South Korean carmaker, opened a big data center in China to supplement its connected car initiatives in the country. The Chinese government’s sanctions over Seoul’s embrace of THAAD have caused dramatic short-term losses for the Korean carmaker, but Hyundai still hopes for long-term gains by pursuing connected car technology. The Chinese government is promoting “Vehicle to Everything” technologies, which Hyundai is taking advantage of by partnering with state-owned China Unicom to develop big data analysis models and cloud computing for vehicles (Jung Min-hee, “Hyundai Motor Opens Big Data Center in China,” BusinessKorea, September 27, 2017, http://www.businesskorea.co.kr/english/news/industry/19434-strong-will-f...)

Indonesia

Indonesia's Transportation Ministry opened 12 infrastructure projects worth a total of USD $3 billion to foreign investors during its fourth Asia-Europe Transport Ministers Meeting to address issues of connectivity and transportation infrastructure in Indonesia. The Transportation Minister met with interested investors from Britain, Russia, Japan, India, Singapore, and China as well as others. Already, Chinese and Dutch investors have started talks regarding development of Indonesia's Kuala Tanjung port in Sumatra and the United Arab Emirates has expressed interest in bidding for the Makassar New Port in Sulawesi (“Infrastructure Investment Projects on Sale in Indonesia,” Indonesia Investments, September 26, 2017, https://www.indonesia-investments.com/news/todays-headlines/infrastructu...)

Indonesia's Indika Energy assumed majority ownership in Indonesia's third-largest coal producer, Kideco Jaya Agung, by purchasing an additional 45 percent stake in the company from South Korea's Samtan for USD $677.5 million. Samtan’s willingness to divest this asset represents a new trend among foreign companies nervous about holding investments in Indonesian resources in the wake of Jakarta’s move to force Freeport-McMorRan to divest some of its assets. New policies that favor domestic companies’ control of natural resources are further alienating foreign investors (Wataru Suzuki, “Indonesia's Indika Energy lifts stake in local coal producer,” Nikkei Asian Review, September 26, 2017, https://asia.nikkei.com/Business/AC/Indonesia-s-Indika-Energy-lifts-stak...)

Thailand

“US-Thai strategic panel on the table,” Bangkok Post, September 29, 2017, http://www.bangkokpost.com/business/news/1333183/us-thai-strategic-panel...

Vietnam

Vietnam’s Ministry of Finance has approved 34 Vietnamese state-owned enterprises (SOEs) to be opened to private investment, but only 11 have submitted plans for equitisation thus far. The amount of approved privatization for the Vietnamese SOEs have been valued at USD $3.5 billion, but malpractice by SOE managers and different standards for assessing asset values for the SOEs have put off investors. The Ministry of Finance is creating a new set of policy measures to better track SOE assets, investor bids, and investor potential to avoid losses (“Equitisation progress disappointing,” Vietnamnet, September 28, 2017, http://english.vietnamnet.vn/fms/business/187313/equitisation-progress-d...)

The Vietnamese government is collaborating with the World Bank to increase investment in new solar projects as part of an ongoing government initiative to promote clean energy within the country. The Vietnamese Ministry of Industry and Trade will implement a new “feed-in-tariff” program to pay foreign investors for using renewable energy. Already, China’s JA Solar Holdings has announced plans for a USD $1 billion solar modules manufacturing plant in Vietnam and US based General Electric (GE) signed an agreement with Vietnam's government for wind energy development (Saurabh Mahapatra, “Vietnam To Launch Solar Power Auctions,” Clean Technica, September 25, 2017, https://cleantechnica.com/2017/09/25/vietnam-launch-solar-power-auctions)

*The information compiled in the MNCs in the News digest is gathered from sources believed to be reliable, but the Wong MNC Center does not guarantee their accuracy. The content of the MNCs in the News digest does not necessarily represent the view of the Wong MNC Center, its Board of Directors, or its Advisory Board, but is intended for the non-commercial use of readers in order to foster debate and discussion and to facilitate and stimulate research.