MNCs in the News-2020-04-03

China

At a recent signing ceremony in Shanghai, foreign direct investment (FDI) deals exceeding USD $16 billion were concluded despite the coronavirus. While a specific breakdown was not given for this FDI, it appears to be flowing into high-end manufacturing areas emphasized by Shanghai such as integrated circuit, artificial intelligence, biopharmaceutical, aviation and aerospace, and intelligent manufacturing. During the ceremony, Shanghai also unveiled an investment platform offering a centralized source of information as well as 26 new special industrial parks and new industrial space (He Wei, “Over 440b yuan in Investment Deals Inked in Shanghai,” China Daily, March 31, 2020, www.chinadaily.com.cn/a/202003/31/WS5e8307c0a310128217283611.html)

Per reports, China’s Ministry of Commerce will “adopt various steps to foster the opening-up of the oil and gas industry chain in East China’s Zhejiang Pilot Free Trade Zone (FTZ).” These measures, designed, inter alia to bring in “strategic” FDI in oil trade, speed up the transformation and upgrading of the petrochemical and refining industry, and enhance market forces in oil distribution,” concentrate on storage, trade, and transportation.” The Zhejiang pilot FTZ focuses on the export of refined oil (“E China Pilot FTZ Opens Up Oil, Gas Industry Chain,” China Daily, April 1, 2020, www.chinadaily.com.cn/a/202004/01/WS5e84a007a310128217283b9a.html)

Senior managers at the port operator for Pakistan’s Gwadar Port told Global Times that the coronavirus pandemic has not affected the port in any substantive adverse way contrary to media reports. Chinese laborers are few and have returned to duty and supplies from China are arriving as planned. Of course, the global economic situation is weighing on the port since shipping traffic has decreased or is being rerouted. And the port has frozen certain activities in an adjacent FTZ because of Pakistan’s national lockdown (Chu Daye, “Key CPEC Port Remains Operational During COVID-19 Pandemic,” Global Times, April 2, 2020, https://www.globaltimes.cn/content/1184542.shtml)

“Hungary wants to classify all data [e.g., interest rates for loans] included in contracts for the $2.1 billion…Budapest-Belgrade rail project [which is part of the Belt and Road Initiative] for ten years…to ensure a loan deal is signed “‘as soon as possible.’” The government argues such action, which would be authorized pursuant to a bill sent to the Hungarian parliament, would ensure Hungary can obtain a loan from the China Export-Import Bank to move forward on the long delayed project (Anita Komuves, “Hungary, Eager for Loan, Wants to Classify Details of Budapest-Belgrade Chinese Rail Project,” Reuters, April 2, 2020, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-hungary-china-rail-legislation/hungar...)

Japan

The coronavirus caused the output of major Japanese automobile manufacturers in China to plummet around 29,000 units in February, a drop of 86.7 percent over the same period year-over-year. Toyota’s output fell 77.4 percent, Nissan’s 87.9 percent, and Honda’s 92.4 percent. In total, the overseas production of eight Japanese automakers experienced a drop of 18.6 percent. Even after resuming operations in China, automakers expect a further drop in global output in coming months due to factory shutdowns in the United States (US) and Europe (“Japanese car production in China down 86% in February,” The Japan Times, March 31, 2020, https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2020/03/31/business/corporate-business...)

Japan’s Asahi Group Holdings’ $11 billion acquisition of Australia's Carlton & United Breweries (CUB) from Anheuser-Busch InBev has received approval from Australia’s Competition and Consumer Commission. The competition regulator initially opposed the purchase on the ground that it would allow Asahi to control two-third of the market for cider. However, its concerns were allayed after Asahi offered to sell parts of CUB’s beer and cider operations. This deal is part of Asahi’s plan to expand overseas due to falling domestic consumption (Fumi Matsumoto and Nana Shibata, “Asahi's CUB takeover approved by Australian regulator,” Nikkei Asian Reviews, April 1, 2020, https://asia.nikkei.com/Business/Business-deals/Asahi-s-CUB-takeover-app...)

South Korea

The approval of Korea’s HDC Hyundai Development Co.’s acquisition of Asian Airlines in by competition authorities in South Korea, China, the US, elsewhere has suffered delays due to the spread of the coronavirus. HDC won the bid to acquire Asian Airlines in November 2019 and planned to pay 1,466.4 billion won by April 7, subject to receiving regulatory approval. However, delayed reviews forced Asiana Airlines to postpone the initial payment date and the acquisition is unlikely to be completed in the first half of 2020 (Jung Min-hee, “HDC's Acquisition of Asiana Airlines Being Delayed,” Business Korea, April 2, 2020, http://www.businesskorea.co.kr/news/articleView.html?idxno=43640)

The Chinese government’s decision to extend electric vehicles (EV) subsidies until the end of 2020 will benefit South Korean EV battery manufacturers because China will expand subsidies to cover EVs equipped with batteries manufactured by non-Chinese companies. Specifically, EVs using batteries produced by LG Chem, SK Innovation and Samsung SDI have been included in the subsidy list. With the expansion of subsidies, the Chinese government aims to protect local companies, which have been severely affected by decreased sales and the spread of the coronavirus (Jung Min-hee, “Chinese Government Extends EV Subsidies by 2 Years,” Business Korea, April 2, 2020, http://www.businesskorea.co.kr/news/articleView.html?idxno=43624)

*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.