MNCs in the News-2018-06-08

China

A China’s Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) spokesperson stated in early June that China would “release and implement two updated foreign investment negative list [one for nationwide implementation and one for pilot free trade zones] by June 30.” The lists will not only address the financial and auto sectors, but energy, resources, transportation, and services.” Some industries will have transitional periods. The announcement follows in the wake of a series of other reform related announcements from government bodies like the National Development and Reform Commission (Jing Shuiyu and Ren Xiaojin,”Tweaks on Cards for Negative Lists,” China Daily, June 1, 2018, http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/a/201806/01/WS5b108393a31001b82571d8d2.html)

According to reports, China’s State Administration for Market Regulation is investigating Samsung and Micron regarding the pricing of the latter’s memory chips. Memory chip prices are important because “‘China imports more semiconductors than crude oil by value.’” Samsung, Micron, and SK Hynix dominate the market in DRAM chips and is it possible that the Chinese government is negotiating prices with them. In the backdrop is China’s quest to improve its self-sufficiency in memory chips which are used in all kinds of computing and electronic devices (Yuan Yang and Bryan Harris, “Chinese Regulators Investigate Foreign Chipmakers,” Financial Times, June 5, 2018)

At a press conference, a China MOFCOM spokesperson responded to charges China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) placed debt burdens on participating countries by stating “China ‘never domineers over others to force them to make deals,’” adding all “projects have been carried out through equal consultation and joint implementation with host countries for mutual gain.” The spokesperson also noted Chinese companies had created 75 overseas zones in BRI countries, with USD $25.5 billion in investment, generating 220,000 jobs and $1.7 billion in tax revenues (“Belt and Road Projects Bring Countries Development, not Burden: MOC,” China Daily, June 8, 2018, http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/a/201806/08/WS5b1a2458a31001b82571ef5d.html)

After 18 months of delay, Sri Lanka has agreed to award Surbana Jurong, a Singaporean urban planning consultancy, a central role in developing a plan for the final stage of an industrial zone around Sri Lanka’s controversial Hambantota port. The zone, which has three stages and for which Sri Lanka has borrowed billions, has raised concerns about excessive debt burdens and losses of sovereignty. Surbana Jurong, owned by Singapore’s Temasek, already was involved in planning the zone’s 1st two phases (“Sri Lanka Pushes Forward Plans for Chinese Investment Zone in Controversial Port,” South China Morning Post, June 7, 2018, http://www.scmp.com/news/china/diplomacy-defence/article/2149766/sri-lan...)

Japan

The British government and Hitachi Ltd. have agreed to begin full-scale negotiations on the potential construction of a nuclear power plant in Wales. Both sides finally agreed on a cost-sharing mix for the project in which the British side would cover about two-thirds of the estimated $23.5 billion cost through direct government investment and loan guarantees. Tokyo has welcomed the agreement because Prime Minster Shinzo Abe’s push to export Japanese nuclear power technology has struggled amid rising costs for safety measures (“British government, Hitachi to begin full negotiations on nuclear plant in Wales,” The Japan Times, June 5, 2018, https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2018/06/05/business/britain-may-invest...)

Japan will offer generous loan terms to more Japanese businesses to reach its 2020 target of $2.5 billion in infrastructure exports. Its loan program will expand to provide yen-denominated loans with low interest rates to businesses where Japanese companies have stakes as low as 20 percent whereas previously the stake had to be 50 percent. The broadened program will also support Japanese suppliers of components to be assembled by foreign vendors in an attempt to help Japanese companies secure infrastructure orders by working with overseas partners (“Japan expands loans to global infrastructure projects,” Nikkei Asian Review, June 8, 2018, https://asia.nikkei.com/Economy/Japan-expands-loans-to-global-infrastruc...)

South Korea

The Philippines’ Department of Energy is processing four letters of intent (LOIs) from South Korea’s SK Engineering & Construction, Sy ENC, BKS Energy Industry, and SK E&S representing a potential $4.4 billion in incoming investment. The four Korean companies presented the LOIs to Philippines’ President Rodrigo Duterte during his recent visit to South Korea. All four firms are planning energy infrastructure related projects to help meet the Philippines’ energy needs as well as to support Duterte’s “Build, Build, Build” infrastructure policy (Myrna M. Velasco, “DOE finalizing $4-B Korean investments,” Manila Bulletin, June 7, 2018, https://business.mb.com.ph/2018/06/07/doe-finalizing-4-b-korean-investments)

Malaysia

Malaysia’s finance minister announced the previous Najib government paid China Petroleum Pipeline Bureau $2 billion, which accounts for 90 percent of the value of the two pipeline projects it was expected to build when less than 15 percent of the projects were completed. The payments are now being investigated by the anti-graft commission and Beijing is expected to help in the investigation of potential money laundering (Tara Francis Chan, “China seems ‘worried’ about Malaysia’s new leadership, and a suspicious $2 billion deal could be the first sign of trouble,” Business Insider, June 6, 2018, http://www.businessinsider.com/china-concerns-malaysia-new-government-ma...)

Indian federal investigators have filed criminal charges against AirAsia India, a joint venture between Malaysia’s AirAsia and India’s Tata Sons, for “conspiracy” involving the payment of bribes to policymakers. While AirAsia has suffered damage to its stock price and reputation, India may have tarnished its image as a business destination. The charges only name the payor while failing to identify bribe recipients reminding foreign investors India can launch accusations against businesses even before sufficiently establishing a case (Ken Koyanagi, “AirAsia India case sounds fresh alarms for foreign businesses,” Nikkei Asian Review, June 4, 2018, https://asia.nikkei.com/Business/Business-Trends/AirAsia-India-case-soun...)

*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.