MNCs in the News-2019-01-11

China

During a meeting with Tesla CEO Elon Musk in Beijing, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang stated his country welcomes investments from foreign firms and is open to deepening cooperation with them. The electric vehicle (EV) manufacturer’s new factory in Shanghai is the first wholly-foreign owned project of its kind in China, made possible thanks to recent legal changes that removed equity share caps on foreign ownership in the sector. In coming months, China will promote a series of other large projects focused on new energy (Yongqi Hu, “Country welcomes foreign investors, reinforced cooperation, premier says,” China Daily, January 10, 2019, http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/a/201901/10/WS5c367d75a3106c65c34e38c6.html)

A source from Beijing’s Central Business District (CBD) administrative committee said that foreign-funded companies in the area now exceed 10,000. Overseas firms have been a great driver of economic growth in the Chinese capital and a total of 157 Fortune 500 companies, 53 of which are companies’ headquarters, have offices in Beijing’s central Chaoyang district. The city’s CBD is currently developing a three-year action plan of reforms and opening to attract investments from higher quality firms (Li Xia, “10,000 foreign-funded companies settle in Beijing's CBD,” Xinhuanet, January 10, 2019, http://www.xinhuanet.com/english/2019-01/10/c_137734284.htm)

In 2018, Chinese acquisitions of American companies dropped 95 percent compared to the prior year, while in the same period Chinese mergers and acquisitions (M&As) in Europe increased by 81.7 percent. The reasons behind the sharp fall of Chinese investments in the US are tensions caused by the trade war, political instability, and increased scrutiny of Chinese acquisitions in the US, as well as Chinese government’s moves encouraging domestic firms to invest more at home (Jody Xu Klein, “Chinese acquisitions of US companies plunge 95 per cent in 2018 amid trade war,” South China Morning Post, January 8, 2019, https://www.scmp.com/business/china-business/article/2181096/chinese-acq...)

Since the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) intensified its scrutiny of foreign attempts to purchase minority stakes in American companies, Chinese venture funding in American start-ups has significantly decreased. President Donald Trump’s strategy to prevent China from accessing American strategic technologies seems to be working so far, but rejecting Chinese investment in the Silicon Valley may be harmful, as it makes American start-ups’ overseas expansion more difficult, especially in China, which is now the second-largest economy in the world (Heather Somerville, “Chinese tech investors flee Silicon Valley as Trump tightens scrutiny,” Reuters, January 7, 2019, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-venture-china-regulation-insight/chin...)

In 2017, Chinese foreign direct investment (FDI) accounted for 42 percent of all FDI in Latin America. As the United States (US) influence in the area is decreasing, China is pouring more and more money into the region, fueling its tech boom through investments in emerging technology and telecommunications. Chinese FDI in South America mostly goes to countries whose technology firms are looking for Chinese expertise and money and, which, coincidentally, are often nations with resources essential for China’s industry and have growing consumer markets (Daniela Guzman, “China’s billions are powering Latin America's tech boom,” Bloomberg, January 8, 2019, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-01-08/guess-who-s-behind-la...)

Japan

South Korea President Moon Jae-in accused Tokyo of politicizing recent court decisions over wartime labor involving Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corp., calling it unwise and urging Japan to “‘take a more humble stance.’” Moon said that while Japan could “complain” about the court’s ruling, it should know that the South Korean government must respect judicial decisions as a matter of the separation of powers among the three branches of government and that “‘there’s nothing it can do about it’” (“South Korean President Moon Jae-in accuses Japan of politicizing wartime labor issue,” The Japan Times, January 10, 2019, https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2019/01/10/national/politics-diplomacy...)

Japanese Prime Minister Abe Shinzo met with his British counterpart in London last week to ensure legal stability for Japanese businesses post-Brexit. Stressing Japan’s desire for a strong partnership with the United Kingdom (UK), Abe urged Theresa May to avoid a no-deal Brexit, which could be disastrous for Japanese companies in Britain. Concerned about a possible disruption of its operations if Britain leaves the European Union (EU) without a deal, Honda has announced the shutting of UK operations for six days in April (“Abe tells May that world does not want no-deal Brexit,” Nikkei Asian Review, January 11, 2019, https://asia.nikkei.com/Politics/International-Relations/Abe-tells-May-t...)

South Korea

South Korean President Moon reiterated his support for economic cooperation between the two Koreas during his New Year Press conference last week. Moon called inter-Korean economic projects a “blessing” as South Korean companies have benefitted quite a bit from operations at the Gaeseong Industrial Complex. Underscoring the difference in South Korea’s position from the US and Japan, Moon also offered his backing for the lifting of economic sanctions on North Korea as it “is in sync with the level of the denuclearization process” (Kim Yoo-chul, “Economic cooperation with North Korea will be blessing: Moon,” Korea Times, January 10, 2019, http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/nation/2019/01/356_261833.html)

State-run Korea National Oil Corp. (KNOC) is pushing hard to attract investment in its blue-chip assets and liquidate overseas resources development projects that resulted in the firm incurring USD $8.61 billion in total losses as of the end of 2017. The KNOC still plans to pursue an oil field development project in the United Arab Emirates and to carry out a new project to explore South Korea’s East Sea continental shelves where it is likely to find rich deposits of natural resources (Jung Suk-yee, “S. Korea’s State-run Oil Firm Pushing for Restructuring Asset Sales,” Business Korea, January 9, 2019, http://www.businesskorea.co.kr/news/articleView.html?idxno=28114)

*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.