MNCs in the News-2019-06-21

China

During the Global CEO Council in Beijing, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang met with executives of a number of prominent multinational corporations to discuss and lure foreign direct investment (FDI) to China. He stated China will gradually open its financial sector to foreign investors and is committed to protecting all foreign firms’ legitimate rights and interests including intellectual property (IP). The executives at the council showed interest in strengthening cooperation with China and expanding their investments in the country in sectors such as medical services, automobile, and infrastructure (“Chinese premier meets executives of famous multinational companies,” Xinhua, June 20, 2019, http://www.xinhuanet.com/english/2019-06/20/c_138159508.htm)

Mergers and acquisitions (M&As) in China involving European companies increased by slightly more than 30 percent in 2018, with the value of deals soaring 856 percent to USD $9.94 billion. For some, these results link to China’s reform of larger state-owned enterprises (SOEs) to make them more competitive, which putatively creates many new opportunities for foreign investors. In contrast, American firms remain relatively cautious about investing in China because of escalating Sino-American trade tensions (Peggy Sito, “European investors intensify M&A activity in China while US firms keep low profile amid trade war,” South China Morning Post, June 21, 2019, https://www.scmp.com/business/banking-finance/article/3015436/european-i...)

Talks between China and Europe on reciprocal investment access went better than expected as Beijing intensified its efforts to win over United States (US) allies affected by the US-China trade war. Negotiations on the Comprehensive Agreement on Investment and on China’s negative list saw good progress. Talks also covered sectors Beijing has been unwilling to open to European Union (EU) FDI and the parties agreed to hold further meetings to speed up the process of reaching an agreement (Wendy Wu, “China-EU investment treaty talks ‘better than expected’ as Beijing woos US allies,” South China Morning Post, June 20, 2019, https://www.scmp.com/news/china/diplomacy/article/3015318/china-eu-talks...)

Brazil’s Vice President Hamilton Mourao said that Brazil welcomes Chinese FDI in infrastructure as long as it creates local jobs and respects Brazil’s rules. Mourao stated, Brazil has room for Chinese investment in rails, roads and ports, but Chinese companies “cannot arrive here and bring 100,000 Chinese people to work in Brazil.” He also reiterated that science and technology cooperation is an area of potential growth between Brazil and China, and that Huawei will not be excluded from Brazil’s 5G network (Ricardo Brito, Lisandra Paraguassu, “Brazil wants China to invest in its infrastructure: vice president,” Reuters, June 14, 2019, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-brazil-china/brazil-wants-china-to-in...)

Japan

Around the time of the G-20, French President Emmanuel Macron will discuss “‘questions regarding the relationship between Renault and Nissan’” with Japanese Prime Minister Abe Shinzo. In particular, Macron wants to “‘reaffirm the strong attachment France has regarding the Renault-Nissan alliance.’” France currently has a 15 percent share of Renault, which is likely to continue, and the French government would like to make sure that the alliance is solid, despite recent managerial turmoil, before there is any move to partner with Fiat-Chrysler (“French leader to discuss Renault and Nissan with Abe next week,” The Asahi Shimbun, June 20, 2019, http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201906200022.html)

Joining with American and other firms and their industry associations, prominent Japanese corporate subsidiaries in the US such as Epson America, Sony Interactive, and Mitsubishi have expressed opposition to Donald Trump’s proposal to slap tariffs of 25 percent on another $300 billion of Chinese products. Some also said they will ask to have their products exempted from the tariffs because of the potential adverse impact. They added that they felt tariffs would not be effective in rectifying Chinese behaviors that needed to change (“Japanese companies opposed to U.S. slapping additional tariffs on Chinese goods,” Japan Times, June 15, 2019, https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2019/06/15/business/japanese-companies...)

South Korea

In reaction to numerous lawsuits against Japanese companies in South Korea that allow for the seizure of Japanese corporate assets there to compensate forced laborers and the failure of South Korean-Japanese talks to resolve the matter, Tokyo has requested Seoul, pursuant to the terms of their bilateral 1965 treaty, to establish an arbitration panel consisting of representatives selected by other countries. If South Korea ignore Japan’s latest request, Tokyo will consider taking the dispute to the International Court of Justice (“Japan requests South Korea take next step in arbitration process over wartime labor row,” Japan Times, June 19, 2019, https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2019/06/19/national/japan-requests-sou...)

IMM Private Equity, a majority owner of Taihan Electric Wire (a cable maker), has been trying to sell Taihan since 2015 and seems to have struck a deal with a Chinese company. This has drawn fire from local firms and the government. Seoul seems to be prepared to block the deal, designating Taihan’s technologies as a “‘national core technology.’” Taihan retorted many other firms worldwide had extra-high voltage cable technology, and added IMM was not considering selling it to a Chinese firm (Baek Byung-Yeul, “Gov’t Set to Block Sale of Taihan Electric Wire,” The Korea Times, June 17, 2019, www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/tech/2019/06/693_270768.html)

*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.