MNCs in the News-2017-11-17

China

China’s Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) noted that foreign direct investment (FDI) in China’s non-financial sectors grew 1.9 percent year-over-year (YOY) over the first 10 months of the year, with total inward FDI (IFDI) hitting $102.19 billion. Analysts attributed the growth to China’s reforms, a loosening of burdensome investment regulations, and the launching of some major projects. MOFCOM also reported interior provinces had faster IFDI growth than coastal ones and that the high-tech manufacturing and service sectors grew faster than 20 percent YOY (Zhong Nan, “Non-Financial Sector FDI Grows by 1.9% in First 10 Months,” China Daily, November 15, 2017, http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/business/2017-11/15/content_34550458.htm)

China will lift the 50 percent ownership limit on foreign car companies; that is, if investors set up their factories in free trade zones and build new energy vehicles (NEVs). China further intends to lower tariffs “for cars made by foreign firms and sold in China.” Tesla has been negotiating with the Shanghai government about building a factory in the Shanghai Free Trade Zone. China’s enthusiasm for NEVs has to do with its pollution and energy dependency problems (Zheng Lichun, Huang Kaixi, and Mo Yelin, “Foreign New-Energy Carmakers Can Soon Take the Wheel in China,” Caixin, November 10, 2017, https://www.caixinglobal.com/2017-11-10/foreign-new-energy-carmakers-can...)

Beijing Sinnet Technology Co. Ltd., Amazon’s partner in China, said it would buy Amazon’s Web Services (AWS)’s public cloud computing unit in China for around $300 million. AWS said this was a deal to comply with government regulations that preclude foreign firms from holding certain technology assets. AWS already has been dealing with tightening government controls that affected some of the services (e.g., VPNs) it previously offered. At present, the market for cloud services in China is largely dominated by Chinese firms (Cate Cadell, “Amazon Sells Off China Cloud Assets as Tough New rules Bite,” Reuters, November 14, 2017, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-china-amazon-cloud/amazon-sells-off-c...)

MOFCOM reported China’s non-financial outward FDI (OFDI) plunged 40.9 percent for the January to October period YOY. It stressed that “‘irrational outbound investment was further effectively contained,’” with tighter regulation and focused advise to companies to make better investment decisions. As well, MOFCOM noted that that OFDI was showing a “better industrial structure” with most investment going to “leasing and commercial services, manufacturing, wholesale and retail, and information technology sectors” and “no new projects…in property, sport, and entertainment.” (“China’s ODI Drops 40.9% in Jan.-Oct,” China Daily, November 16, 2017, http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/business/2017-11/16/content_34598170.htm)

Japan

Japanese conglomerate Toshiba Corp. will sell 95 percent of its TV and visual products subsidiary to China’s Hisense Group for USD $113 million as part of its effort to stay afloat after its United States (US) nuclear business declared bankruptcy. This resulted from tightened US nuclear safety regulations following the Fukushima meltdown which, in turn, caused Toshiba’s nuclear arm, Westinghouse Electric Co., to fail by rendering its nuclear energy projects uncompletable. Toshiba’s sale of its TV and visual subsidiary will improve its financial position (“Toshiba sells TV and visual solutions unit to China’s Hisense,” Japan Times, November 15, 2017, https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/11/15/business/corporate-business...)

Japan’s SoftBank Group is planning to invest up to USD $25 billion in Saudi Arabia over the next four years as the company proposes investments tailored to Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s agenda. For instance, SoftBank will assist the Crown Prince in developing a new city on the Red Sea, a project backed by Riyadh’s sovereign wealth fund. SoftBank also will invest in state-owned Saudi Electricity Co. as Riyadh seeks to reduce the country’s dependence on oil (Dinesh Nair, Ruth David, and Matthew Martin, “SoftBank Plans Up to $25 Billion in Saudi Investments,” Bloomberg, November 15, 2017, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-11-15/softbank-is-said-to-p...)

South Korea

South Korea’s Hyundai Motor Group sent its Vice Chairman to the US to develop a response to the Trump Administration’s plan to revise the Korean-US Free Trade Agreement (KORUS FTA). Hyundai Motor is expected to announce a new production plant in the US after it pledged to invest USD $3.1 billion in the US over the next five years. Hyundai’s investment may change the course of KORUS FTA talks due to the important place the auto industry has in negotiations (“Jung Min-hee, “Hyundai Motor Vice Chairman Flew to US, Mexico after Meeting with US President,” BusinessKorea, November 15, 2017, http://www.businesskorea.co.kr/english/news/industry/19817-turing-tide-h...)

Hyundai Motor Group confirmed the expansion of its US based, Alabama plant for USD $270 million as part of its pledge to invest USD $3.1 billion in the US. Expansion plans were released just before KORUS FTA negotiations were to take place, attracting attention from South Korean and American politicians. The Alabama expansion will increase Hyundai’s US vehicle output by 80,000 units to meet growing consumer demand for sports utility vehicles (Jung Min-hee, “Hyundai Motor to Expand Alabama Plant to Strengthen Competitiveness in US Market,” BusinessKorea, November 10, 3017, http://www.businesskorea.co.kr/english/news/industry/19778-expansion-pro...)

Malaysia

Malaysia’s Tadmax Resources is partnering with South Korea’s state-owned Korea Electric Power Corp (KEPCO) to build a USD $840 million power plant in the Malaysian state of Selangor. Kuala Lumpur, which initiated the power plant project, called on Tadmax to find “a suitable and active technical partner,” before awarding the company the project as the Tadmax had not yet completed a power plant project. The resulting agreement between Tadmax and KEPCO will give the South Korean firm a 25 percent stake in the project (M. Hafidz Mahpar, “Tadmax, Kepco in power plant project,” The Star Online, November 14, 2017, https://www.thestar.com.my/business/business-news/2017/11/14/tadmax-kepc...)

Malaysia’s state-owned Tenaga Nasional Bhd (TNB) signed a memorandum of understanding with Indonesian state-owned utility company PT PLN (Persero) to build a coal-fired power plant in Kalimantan, Indonesia. Some proclaim that the project is a “win-win venture” for Malaysia and Indonesia as they seek to enhance bilateral cooperation and improve energy stability. Investment amounts have not been released, but TNB will hold an 83 percent stake in the project with PT PLN holding the remaining 17 percent (Ayisy Yusof, “TNB, PLN plan to build power plant in Kalimantan,” New Straits Times, November 17, 2017, https://www.nst.com.my/business/2017/11/303756/tnb-pln-plan-build-power-...)

*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.