MNCs in the News-2020-02-14

China

The CEO for China at JPMorgan said that his firm aimed to assume full ownership of all operations in mainland China in 2021. This would follow in the wake of its successful application to assume majority ownership of its security joint venture (JV) in China. JPMorgan hopes such steps, which take advantage of China’s financial sector opening, will allow it to provide clients more comprehensive offerings. JP Morgan’s expansion likely will spur a rise in headcount (Peggy Sitto, “JPMorgan Targeting Full Ownership of Mainland Operations as It Completes 100 years in China,” South China Morning Post, February 14, 2020, https://www.scmp.com/business/companies/article/3050438/jpmorgan-targeti...)

Regulators associated with various Chinese government organs such as the People’s Bank of China recently approved United States (US) firm Mastercard Inc.’s application to setup a bankcard clearing house JV in which Mastercard will have a majority stake. The PBoC touted the approval as a sign of the country’s opening of its financial sector as well as the internationalization of its domestic payment and clearing services. In late 2018, the PBoC already approved a JV involving US company American Express (Li Qiaoyi and Ma Jingjing, “Mastercard Gets Off Races in China with Clearinghouse JV,” Global Times, February 11, 2020, https://www.globaltimes.cn/content/1179219.shtml)

In an interview, Peter Navarro, special advisor to US President Donald Trump on trade and manufacturing, “urged the US to reduce its reliance on pharmaceutical and medical supply imports from China.” Navarro argued that recent epidemics like China’s current coronavirus epidemic highlight the need for avoiding dependence on other countries for “‘needed items, from face masks to vaccines.’” Several US Senators already have raised concerns with the US Food and Drug Administration about its ability to ensure the safety of items coming from China (James Politi, “US Trade Adviser Seeks to Replace Chinese Drug Supplies,” Financial Times, February 12, 2020)

New regulations expanding the ambit of the US Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) with respect to the review of foreign direct investment (FDI) have gone into effect. Per these new regulations, CFIUS will review smaller ownership stakes, deals involving certain sectors like infrastructure or targets with sensitive data, and deals in real estate. Per some, the new FDI review regime has led to a notable drop in Chinese FDI into the US (Jodi Xu Klein, “US National Security Concerns Return to Spotlight as New Investment Regulations Set In,” South China Morning Post, February 14, 2020, https://www.scmp.com/tech/science-research/article/3050563/national-secu...)

Japan

The coronavirus epidemic in China has propelled Japanese firms to speed up their process of moving production sites to Southeast Asia due to concerns about prolonged plant closures and disrupted supply chains. Even though the relocation of production will increase costs, some companies cannot afford to wait until the Chinese government gains control of the health crisis. Many companies already had prepared plans to move out of China because of rising labor costs and the US-China trade war (Junko Horiuchi, “Japanese firms moving production sites to Southeast Asia as coronavirus outbreak disrupts supply chains,” Japan Times, February 11, 2020, https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2020/02/11/business/japanese-firms-mov...)

New rules pertaining to the screening of FDI into the US have come into effect. These allow CFIUS to screen smaller foreign FDI stakes as well as FDI flowing into certain sensitive sectors like infrastructure. While FDI from certain American allies like Australia, Canada, and the United Kingdom is not subject to the tougher rules, FDI from Japan is. Some reports have suggested this exclusion may change with the passage of time given Japan’s recent moves to enhance its own investment review regime (“Japan Not Among Allies Exempted from Tighter U.S. Investment Rules,” The Japan Times, February 14, 2020, https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2020/02/14/business/japan-not-exempted...)

South Korea

The Japanese government filed a petition with the World Trade Organization (WTO) to delay the merger between Korea’s Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) and Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering (DSME). According to the WTO’s official records, Korea Development Bank, the largest shareholder in DSME, had transferred 59.7 million DSME shares to HHI and received 15.22 million shares from Hyundai. Tokyo claimed that the difference in value between these transferred assets could be construed as subsidies from the government-run Korea Development Bank to a private business (Jung Min-hee, “Japanese Government Hinders Merger between South Korean Shipbuilders,” Business Korea, February 13, 2020, http://www.businesskorea.co.kr/news/articleView.html?idxno=41239)

Korea’s SK Engineering & Construction (SK E&C) wins deal to build a beltway in Kazakhstan, the country’s “very first public-private business partnership.” The mega USD $750 million project, which entails a highway, 21 bridges, and 8 interchanges, involves the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (among other multilateral institutions), and will be operated for 20 years by SK E&C and a partner before being turned over to Kazakhstan. SK E&C also will invest, taking a 33.3 percent stake in the project (Kim Jae-Heun, “SK E&C Signs Financial Deal for Beltway Construction in Almaty,” The Korea Times, February 14, 2020, http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/tech/2020/02/768_283451.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.