Archive for the China – US Relations Category

Rich Chinese Fleeing to United States

Posted in China - US Relations, Chinese Economy, Chinese Purchase of US Assets on 12/22/2012 by David Griffith

Most countries worry about brain drain. China is worried about millionaire drain.

A new report in China shows that 150,000 Chinese – most of them wealthy – emigrated to other countries in 2011. While that number may not seem high for a country of more than a billion people, the flight of China’s richest – and the offshoring of their fortunes – could cost the country jobs and economic growth, according to the study from the Center for China and Globalization and the Beijing Institute of Technology.

“The private economy contributes more than 60 percent of China’s GDP and it absorbs a majority of employees. So if private business owners emigrate with their capital, it would mean less investment in the domestic market, so fewer jobs would be created,” Wang Huiyao, director of the Center for China and Globalization, told the state-run China Daily today.

The fleeing millionaires mainly made their money in real estate, foreign currency and deposits and stocks, among other fields, according to the report. They are mainly leaving Beijing, Shanghai and coastal provinces such as Zhejiang, Guangdong and Jiangsu. (Read moreBRICs Outpace U.S. in Millionaires)

The Chinese government has struggled to stem the tide of wealthy Chinese moving abroad or tunneling their fortunes out of the country. Last month, Zhang Lan – the founder of the South Beauty restaurant chain and a powerful political player – emigrated to an unknown foreign country. She had previously been an outspoken critic of rich Chinese who moved abroad.

When asked about her reasons for moving, her spokesman told China Daily, “It’s a private issue.”

Officially, Chinese individuals are allowed to move only $50,000 offshore every year. But many Chinese have been skirting the rules and moving money to overseas accounts, or buying property, art, wine and other assets overseas.

The Wall Street Journal recently estimated that more than $225 billion flowed out of China in the 12 months ended in September. (Read moreWhat Do Wealthy Chinese Women Want?)

The report on emigration said that for Chinese moving abroad, the main reasons cited for leaving are the security of their assets, improved quality of life and better education for their kids.

China’s wealth flight, however, has been America’s gain. The United States was the top destination for wealthy Chinese in 2011, according to the report. Canada and Australia came second and third.

The report said that the United States had granted 87,000 permanent resident permits to Chinese nationals in 2011. Of those, 3,340 were approved through special investment visas, which allows wealthy foreigners to apply for American citizenship if they agree to invest more than $500,000 on job-creation projects. The program has become largely Chinese, with more than more than two thirds of all of the visas granted going wealthy citizens of mainland.

China Ramps up it’s Patent Industry, Surpasses USA

Posted in China - US Relations, Chinese Economy, Chinese International Trade, Chinese Legal Issues, Intellectual Property in China on 12/13/2012 by David Griffith

China Surpasses U.S. in Number of Patent Applications

By Sheri Qualters – The National Law Journal – December 12, 2012

Last year, for the first time, more patent applications were filed in China than in the United States. This surge reflects China’s increasing intellectual property maturity and growing pains, according to U.S. Intellectual property lawyers and experts.

In a December 11 announcement, the World Intellectual Property Organization reported that China’s patent office took in 526,412 applications, compared to 503,582 in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and 342,610 in Japan’s patent office.

Worldwide patent filings exceeded the 2 million mark, with 2.14 million filed last year. That’s a 7.8 percent boost over the 1.99 million applications filed in 2010.

“Sustained growth in IP filings indicates that companies continue to innovate despite weak economic conditions. This is good news, as it lays the foundation for the world economy to generate growth and prosperity in the future,” said WIPO director general Francis Gurry at a press conference in Geneva.

The numbers reflect a boost in innovation by Chinese nationals, said Stuart Meyer, an intellectual property partner at Fenwick & West in Mountain View, Calif. It’s not just U.S. inventors wanting to get protection in China because it’s commercially important, he said. “That’s a real sea change.”

Ultimately, such filing shifts could affect U.S. patent policy, which offers great protections for intellectual property producers, he said.

The balance is shifting a little bit because more U.S. companies are dealing with licensing intellectual property owned by foreign patentees, said Meyer. “We’re the ones that don’t need such rigorous protection because we’re on the other side of the coin. It changes the way we’re going to be thinking about this in the coming decades.”

The numbers are a milestone in the way innovation is distributed around the world, said Q. Todd Dickinson, executive director of the American Intellectual Property Law Association. “Clearly china is in growth mode in terms of research and development and patent filings track that closely.”

He also said China’s intellectual property system is maturing. “Clearly they’re using IP to protect indigenous innovation.”

The filings show that everyone wants to do business in China, but China also needs to improve patent enforcement, said Peter Toren, a partner at Weisbrod Matteis & Copley in Washington.

“I’ll be more impressed when I get the real sense that China is enforcing patent rights…I want to see them allowing companies to really enforce the rights they have,” Toren said.

 

Major Developments in China since last Leadership Change

Posted in China - US Relations, China Politics, Chinese Economy, Chinese Foreign Relations, Chinese International Trade on 11/09/2012 by David Griffith

How China Has Changed Since the Last Leadership Transition

Published: Thursday, 8 Nov 2012  

By: Rajeshni Naidu-Ghelani, CNBC

All eyes are on China this November as the country prepares for the once in a decade leadership transition within the ruling Communist Party.

The world’s second biggest economy has undergone a massive transformation within the last 10 years. From rapid urbanization and economic growth to social and political development, China has marked many milestones and firsts in the past decade — highlighting its significance on the global stage.

With this in mind, we look at six major changes that China has undergone since the last leadership transition in 2002. Focusing on factors like economic development to changes in consumer behavior, we look at how big of an impact China’s transformation has had on the rest of the world.

Rapid Economic Growth

 
The Work Bank


Riding the wave of rapid economic expansion, China’s growth engine has remained strong over the past decade. China’s economy grew from being the 5th largest in the world in 2002 to 2nd only to the U.S. by 2010. 

The country has seen an average annual gross domestic product (GDP) growth of 10.6 percent since the last leadership transition in November 2002. Yearly economic growth was in the double digits from 2003 to 2007 and hit a high of 14.2 percent in 2007 — levels not seen since the early 1990s. However, like the rest of the world, China was impacted by the global financial crisis in 2008 and saw its GDP fall to 9.6 percent that year. Since then, the superpower has been able to maintain strong economic growth of over 9 percent, but it continues to be plagued by fears of a hard landing. GDP in the second quarter of this year fell to 7.6 percent, hitting its slowest pace in three years.

Many economists now expect China’s annual GDP to fall below 8 percent in 2012, with even Beijing setting a target of 7.5 percent growth — marking China’s first drop to that level since 1999. Uncertainty over how the new leadership will deal with slowing growth is intensifying and several analysts have told CNBC that policymakers may be taking their eye off the ball when it comes to the economy to prepare for the once-a-decade leadership transition. The politics involved in the government change may be slowing the policymaking in China and deterring the government from making significant economic decisions, according to experts. 

Rising incomes

 
National Bureau of Statistics China


Economic development has led to rising incomes in China as workers demand higher wages to cope with soaring living costs in major cities.

In a 10 year period, the per capita income of urban residents rose from $827 in 2001 to $3,711 in 2011, according to the National Bureau of Statistics of China. That’s a nearly 350 percent increase. China’s average minimum wage has been rising an average 12.5 percent annually from 2006 to 2010, and the government announced earlier this year that minimum wages should grow by an average of at least 13 percent in the five years to 2015.

Rising wages has become a major concern for local and international manufacturers betting on “cheap” Chinese labor for growth. Many are moving production inland to save on costs, while others are looking into alternative manufacturing hubs in Asia like Vietnam, the Philippines and Indonesia. For example, Apple supplier Foxconn, in the news recently for labor unrest at its Chinese factories, announced in August that it would invest $10 billion in Indonesia to tap into one of the cheapest labor forces in Asia.

Stocks Outperform in a Decade

 
Thomson Reuters


China’s battered stock market, which was down more than 20 percent in 2011, and is lower by nearly 6 percent so far this year, has made headlines recently for being the worst performing major equity market in Asia — a sharp contrast to China’s growth story.

Still, taking into account the total gains made over the past decade paints a more bullish picture. The Shanghai Composite index rose 35 percent from 2002 to 2011, far outperforming the U.S. benchmark S&P 500 which only rose 9 percent in the same period. But, despite the substantial 10-year gain, it hasn’t been all smooth sailing for Chinese equities. The Shanghai Composite fell about 65 percent to 2,016 in October 2008 during the global financial crisis from a peak level of 5,725 in September 2007. While stocks continued to gain ground up until August 2009, it has been in a steady decline since.

Despite the downtrend in the last three years, several analysts are still optimistic about a turnaround in Chinese equities on the growing possibility of more easing by the government to spur growth. Japanese brokerage Nomura predicted in July that Chinese stocks could climb as much as 20 percent by the first quarter of 2013 after having bottomed in early June. Meanwhile, the notable head of Goldman Sachs Asset Management — Jim  O’Neill — said in September that Chinese equities present the “most attractive” investment opportunity in all of the BRIC markets.

Internet Explosion

 
China Internet Network Information Center


By sheer numbers, China is experiencing a technology boom unlike anywhere else in the world. Its internet population surpassed half a billion users in 2011 — making it by far the world’s biggest online market. That’s a more than 362 percent increase since 2005. Even then, the internet usage penetration remained at 38 percent in 2011, presenting further growth potential.

About four out of 10 Chinese use the internet, accounting for a total of 538 million users, according to state-run agency China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC). That population is set to jump to 700 million users by 2015, according to the Boston Consulting Group (BCG), which is more than double the entire population of the U.S. The country’s fast growing online market provides a big opportunity for retailers and BCG predicts that China’s online retail sales will triple to more than $360 billion by 2015 to make it the world’s largest online retail market.

Smartphone makers are also looking to increase their presence in the country’s mobile phone market. Nearly 70 percent of China’s internet users connected to the web through their handsets in 2011, according to the CNNIC.

Mega Rich Get Richer

 
The Hurun Research Institute


China’s billionaire count has surged in the past decade, spurred on by the country’s rapid economic development.

In 2001, China had only one billionaire, but that number has jumped to 251 this year —according to the Shanghai based Hurun Report — making it second only to the U.S. in the world when it comes to most billionaires. Billionaires account for just 1.3 percent of wealth individuals with $30 million or more in China, but control nearly a quarter of the ultra-rich group’s wealth of $1.58 trillion, according to research firm Wealth-X. These billionaires are worth an average of almost $2.6 billion each.

China’s consumption and construction boom are two of the major drivers of wealth for the super-rich with a majority of billionaires counting on property as one of their main sources of wealth. The public listing of companies has also made business owners billionaires overnight. But recently, the stock market has also caused China’s billionaires to lose almost a third of their combined wealth with the benchmark Shanghai Composite falling 20 percent from August 2011 to July 2012, according to Wealth-X. In total, the population of China’s wealthy with assets worth $30 million and above shrank by 2.3 percent in the past year, while their combined wealth decreased nearly 7 percent to $1.6 trillion.

Consumption Boom

 
National Bureau of Statistics China


Consumer spending in China has seen double digit growth for a decade, creating a path for the country to become the world’s biggest consumer market by 2015, according to government authorities.

Its fast growing consumer class of about 130 million has given a big boost to markets from retail and housing to travel and other discretionary sectors. China’s consumer retail sales, for example, are expected to surpass $5 trillion in 2015, according to Commerce Minister Chen Deming. Rising incomes amid rapid urbanization are major reasons behind China’s consumption boom and the World Bank expects the growth to continue as income per capita climbs to more than triple to $16,000 by 2030 from about $5,000 now.

Businesses like carmakers, luxury retailers, and hotel chains have been flocking to the world’s second largest economy to target Chinese consumers. Italian fashion house Prada, for example, counts on China as its biggest market with 30 percent of its global sales in the fiscal year that ended in January 2012 coming from the country. The luxury retailer has 19 stores in China, but plans to open up to 15 more this year. The world’s largest premium carmaker BMW, meanwhile, increased sales of its flagship BMW brand in China by 55 percent in September compared to the previous year, while its Mini cars saw sales jump a whopping 121 percent in the same period.

But not all retailers have had a similar level of success in China. Home Depot, the world’s largest home improvement chain, struggled to win over Chinese shoppers with its U.S. style do-it-yourself model. The U.S retailer announced in September that it will close all seven of its big box stores to focus on specialty stores and e-commerce in China.

How Will China’s Changing Leadership Affect US Relations

Posted in China - US Relations, China Politics, Chinese Foreign Relations on 11/08/2012 by David Griffith

Will U.S.-China Relations Change After China’s Historic Leadership Transition?

By Bernice Napach | Daily Ticker

The U.S. is not the only superpower facing political change this week. China begins its 18th Communist Party Congress on Wednesday and party leaders will decide who will lead the world’s second biggest economy.

“This is an historic time to be watching China politically now,” says Nicholas Consonery, Asia analyst for Eurasia Group, a global political risk research and consulting firm. “The Communist Party, which has been in charge since 1949, is going to see a big transition in the entire leadership of the party.”

Consonery tells The Daily Ticker that the Party’s standing committee, which leads the country, will almost completely turn over and may even be reduced in size from nine to seven members. These individuals will likely run China for the next 10 years.

It’s expected that Xi Jinping, China’s vice president, will be named the new head of state and Li Kequiang, the current executive vice premier, will become the new premier. Although the changes will announced by Nov. 11, they won’t take effect until March 2013.

Consonery says the changes are wide and deep — the equivalent in the U.S. to a change in the presidency, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Supreme Court and the governorships of most or all the states, all at once.

“It’s not just change at the top of the party, but the whole party structure,” adds Consonery.

Related: China’s Slow Growth ‘Marks an End of an Era’ But No Hard Landing China’s new government will face many domestic challenges including a slowing economy, a growing middle class and increasing demands for political reform. China’s economy grew at a 7.4% annual rate in the third quarter—its slowest since the first quarter of 2009.

China’s new leadership with also have to contend with an increasingly fraught relationship with the U.S. and its Asian neighbors.

The Obama Administration has been bringing more cases against China through the WTO, charging China with unfair trade practices.

Related: America vs. China: “Free Trade is Only for Friends,” Says Prof. D’Aveni “The U.S. is clearly headed in the direction of taking more forceful stances with China over trade and economic issues,” says Consonery.

In Asia, there’s a “growing level of concern about China’s rise…on the part of many of its neighbors and a clear determination on the part of the U.S. to increase its engagement there,” says Consonery. China and Japan both claim ownership of the uninhabited Senkaku Islands, which are currently controlled by Japan.

Chinese surveillance ships have been seen sailing in the waters around the islands. On Tuesday the U.S. and Japan began an 11-day join military exercise in the area.

International Patent Litigation – Is There a Home Court Advantage?

Posted in China - US Relations, Chinese International Trade, Chinese Legal Issues, Intellectual Property in China on 09/10/2012 by David Griffith

Author’s Note: Did Samsung get a fair trial against Apple in Northern California? Can Apple get a fair trial in Korea or China?  All interesting questions with potential billion dollar outcomes depending on the answer.

Some in Asia See Bias in U.S. Apple Verdict

By Jessica Seah  The Asian Lawyer  September 3, 2012

On August 24 a California federal jury awarded Apple Inc. over $1 billion in its smartphone patent infringement suit against Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd.—the largest patent verdict ever. The same day, a Korean court issued a split decision widely seen as more favorable to Samsung, and, last Friday, a Japanese court ruled against Apple outright, ordering the U.S. company to pay Seoul-based Samsung’s legal costs.

The contrast in outcomes has not been lost on intellectual property lawyers in Asia.

“I am surprised Samsung lost all counts in the case in the U.S.,” says one Beijing IP partner with an international firm. “I think there is a clear home court advantage there.”

Other IP lawyers in the region expressed similar sentiments, with some noting that perceptions of bias in the U.S. Apple ruling could provide cover to courts in the region, particularly those in China, that have been accused of favoritism themselves.

Matthew Laight, an IP lawyer and the Hong Kong–based China managing partner for U.K. firm Bird & Bird, says that inexperienced Chinese judges in patent cases could potentially draw the wrong lessons from the Apple case.

“Chinese judges are just getting their heads around whether or not to grant injunctions in patent disputes,” Laight says, “so the result of the Apple-Samsung case may influence how judges see things.”

Many lawyers in the region noted that the U.S. decision was made by a jury. The Korean and Japanese cases were both decided by judges.

The Beijing partner says he found the U.S. ruling less reasonable than the Korean one, in which the three-judge Seoul panel found that both Apple and Samsung infringed each other’s patents and ordered a halt to sales in the country of certain products from both companies. Some observers have said that ruling was more favorable to Samsung because it had already discontinued the affected products.

Apple’s hipper image helped with the California jury, the Beijing partner thinks. Despite being the world’s largest technology manufacturer by revenue, Samsung was the effective underdog in the U.S. case.

“Samsung was pitted against the most revered and successful company in the world,” he says. “So there is definitely a local bias there, especially when decided by jury. I have my doubts against the jury really understanding such a complex case.”

The seven men and two women of the jury found that Samsung infringed all but one of the seven patents at issue—a patent covering the exterior design of the iPad. They also decided that Apple didn’t violate any of the five patents Samsung asserted in the case.

In an interview with Bloomberg, jury foreman Velvin Hogan rejected accusations of local bias. He said the jurors were “inundated” by evidence, and the fact that Apple was headquartered in Cupertino, California—not far from the San Jose courtroom in which the case was heard—made no difference.

Morrison & Foerster and Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr represented Apple, while Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan acted for Samsung.

In Japan, Apple had claimed that Samsung infringed its patent on synchronization and sought $1.3 million in damages. District Judge Tamotsu Shoji in Tokyo rejected Apple’s claim, though Apple has other infringement claims pending in Japan.

According to Yoshikazu Iwase, an IP partner at Tokyo-based Anderson Mori & Tomotsune, the Japanese court decision was not surprising because “traditionally Japanese judges are conservative in enforcing patents” and local judges are usually “not directly affected by the decisions of other jurisdictions.”

Still, large Asian corporations are generally accustomed to litigating in the United States and have faith in the fairness of the courts there. Though there may be a sense that Apple enjoyed a home-court advantage in San Jose, says Jones Day Tokyo partner Michiku Takahashi, that stops well short of the kind of bias they worry about in China, where courts are not independent and are generally seen as favoring well-connected parties.

“Experienced Japanese companies are not too bothered about court bias, but comparatively they are generally more concerned about decisions made by Chinese courts, than, say, in the U.S. or in Europe,” she says.

Many lawyers believe the Apple-Samsung fight will trigger a wave of new patent litigation targeting big Asian companies. Geoffrey Lin, a Shanghai-based IP partner at Ropes & Gray, says that lawyers will start to go back to look at their clients’ business models to make sure they are closely protected by their patents.

“International technology companies, especially those that manufacture smartphones, are going to start looking at jurisdictions where there is a lot of trolling,” says Lin.

Takahashi says smartphone-related patent litigation has already become common in recent years. “There has been an increasing number of patent troll cases here in Japan, where non [technology] practicing entities are registering smartphone patents,” she says. “So the Apple matter may give even the larger Japanese phone companies more confidence to litigate when they feel their patents have been infringed.”

But Laight says that while the Apple-Samsung case has gotten a lot of attention, the dispute might not be a sole driver for an increase in patent litigation in Asia.

Asian electronics companies from Japan, Korea, and Taiwan have long litigated against each other both in their home jurisdictions and around the world. Laight notes that now Chinese companies are getting in on the act. Last year Shenzhen-based telecommunications firm Huawei Technologies Co. filed patent infringement lawsuits against its smaller Chinese rival ZTE Corp. in courts in France, Germany, and Hungary. The patents relate to data card and 4G technologies, and ZTE has allegedly used Huawei’s trademark on some of its data cards. ZTE has countersued, alleging that Huawei infringed its 4G patents.

 

 

Chinese Companies Make Quick Exit from US Markets

Posted in China - US Relations, Chinese Markets, Chinese Stock Trading on US Markets on 08/14/2012 by David Griffith

Chinese firms leave US stock markets amid complaints about price, accounting scrutiny

By Joe Mcdonald, AP Business Writer | Associated Press 

BEIJING (AP) — Just a few years after Chinese companies lined up to sell shares on Wall Street, a growing number are reversing course and pulling out of U.S. exchanges.

This week, Focus Media Holding Ltd., announced its chairman and private equity firms want to buy back its U.S.-traded shares and take the Shanghai-based advertising company private. The deal would value Focus Media at $3.5 billion, according to financial information firm Dealogic.

Smaller companies also are withdrawing from U.S. exchanges. In a sign of official encouragement, a Chinese business magazine said a state bank has provided $1 billion in loans to help companies with listings abroad move them to domestic exchanges.

The withdrawals follow accusations of improper accounting by some companies and a deadlock between Beijing and Washington over whether U.S. regulators can oversee their China-based auditors.

Some Chinese companies say they are pulling out of U.S. markets because a low share price fails to reflect the strength of their business. Withdrawing also eliminates the cost of complying with American financial reporting rules.

Focus Media “has been seriously undervalued on U.S. stock markets” and being taken private will help to promote its “long-term strategic development,” said a company spokeswoman, Lu Jing.

The company, formed in 2003, operates electronic advertising displays in elevators, grocery stores and other locations.

“We haven’t considered whether to list the company on Chinese markets but that possibility has not been excluded,” Lu said.

U.S.-traded Chinese companies faced scrutiny after auditors for several quit and others were accused of accounting irregularities. Concerns about company finances have caused share prices to tumble, costing investors several billion dollars.

“Probably all these companies have some questionable accounting, so they may prefer to move out of the U.S., not to come under too much scrutiny,” said Marc Faber, managing director of Hong Kong fund management company Marc Faber Ltd.

A financial firm, Muddy Waters Research, accused Focus Media last year of overstating the number of its display panels and questioned acquisitions reported by the company. Focus Media denied the allegations and said independent auditors confirmed the size of its network.

This week, Muddy Waters founder Carson Block said in a statement: “The markets are far better off if a few deep pocketed investors own Focus Media instead of mutual funds and other public shareholders.”

The group proposing to take the company private includes its chairman, Jason Nanchun Jiang, and private equity firms Carlyle Group, CITIC Capital Partners, CDH Investments and China Everbright Ltd.

The status of Chinese companies in the United States could be complicated by a dispute between U.S. and Chinese regulators over whether American inspectors will be allowed to examine the work of their China-based audit firms.

Washington wants auditors to hand over documentation on companies that are under investigation but Chinese authorities have barred the release of some information. If a settlement is not reached, the SEC could reject audits by China-based firms, forcing companies to find new auditors.

In May, Beijing took steps to tighten control of local affiliates of major accounting firms by issuing a requirement for Chinese citizens to head those offices.

Dozens of Chinese companies issued shares on Wall Street over the past decade, raising billions of dollars from investors who wanted a stake in the country’s booming economy.

Many were private companies that could not raise money on Chinese exchanges that were created to finance state industry or wanted the higher public profile.

Chinese regulators encouraged the move as a way for entrepreneurs to raise money and speed the development of China’s economy. But in recent years Beijing has encouraged private companies to issue shares in China to help develop its markets and give Chinese households better investment options.

Regulators have made it easier for private companies to join China’s two exchanges in Shanghai and the southern city of Shenzhen, though most listings still are for state enterprises. The Shenzhen exchange created a second board for small companies, imitating the U.S.-based Nasdaq market.

Major state companies such as oil giant PetroChina Ltd. and China Mobile Ltd., the world’s biggest phone company by subscribers, also have issued shares abroad. None has indicated it plans to withdraw from foreign stock exchanges.

The economics also are shifting in China’s favor.

U.S.-traded companies saw share prices plunge following the 2008 global crisis, while economic growth at home, even after a recent decline, is still forecast at about 8 percent this year. Rising Chinese incomes are creating a bigger pool of money for investment.

“Generally speaking, a company’s shares are sold at a higher premium in initial public offerings on Chinese stock markets than on U.S. markets,” said Mao Sheng, a market strategist for Huaxi Securities in the western city of Chengdu.

Also, he said, “If the company’s business is mainly in China, it will be good for its brand promotion.”

Another U.S.-traded company, Fushi Copperweld Inc., announced plans in June by its chairman, Li Fu, and a Hong Kong firm, Abax Global Capital, to take the maker of metallic conductors private.

Muddy Waters cited Fushi Copperweld in April as one of several companies it said dealt with an investment bank that helped enterprises seeking U.S. stock market listings to conceal problems and misrepresent financial information.

Fushi Copperweld denied Muddy Waters’ “vague and nonspecific” claims.

The company said its privatization will be financed with loans from the China Development Bank.

Created to support construction of highways and other public works in China, CDB plays a growing role in its corporate expansion abroad. The bank provides credit to buyers of Chinese telecoms gear and other big-ticket goods and has financed building projects in Africa, Latin America and Asia.

CDB has lent $1 billion “to help Chinese public companies leave the U.S. stock market to return to domestic markets,” the business magazine Caixin said last month.

Employees who answered the phone at Fushi Copperweld said no one was available to comment.

Also in June, China TransInfo Technology Corp., a provider of traffic management technology, announced privatization plans to be financed by CDB’s Hong Kong branch. A company spokeswoman said she could not comment because the plan is not finalized.

In October, Harbin Pacific Electric Co. withdrew from Nasdaq in a share buyback financed by $400 million in loans from the CDB.

 

Federal Reserve Approves First US Bank Acquisition in the United States by a Chinese Bank

Posted in China - US Relations, Chinese International Trade, Chinese Purchase of US Assets with tags , , , , , , , on 05/10/2012 by David Griffith

On May 9, 2012, the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (the “FRB”) issued an order (the “Order”) approving the acquisition of 80% of the shares of common stock of The Bank of East Asia (U.S.A.) National Association (“BEAUSA”), by Industrial and Commercial Bank of China Limited (“ICBC”). This Order marks the first occasion on which the FRB approved the acquisition of a U.S. bank by a Chinese bank since the Bank Holding Company Act of 1956 (the “BHC Act”) was amended by the Foreign Bank Supervision Enhancement Act of 1991 (“FBSEA”). The FBSEA, which increased federal supervision of foreign banks operating in the United States, requires the FRB to make a finding that a foreign bank seeking to acquire control of a U.S. bank is subject to comprehensive supervision on a consolidated basis (“CCS”) by its home country supervisor. The Order marks the first time that the FRB has made a full and unqualified CCS determination for a Chinese bank to acquire control of a U.S. bank, although it has previously made a so-called “limited” CCS determination in the context of Chinese banks establishing U.S. branches.

On November 8, 2007, the FRB approved an application by China Merchants Bank Co., Ltd. (“CMB”) to establish a branch in New York, New York, the first such approval for a Chinese bank since the FBSEA. The FRB made a “limited” CCS determination pursuant to a provision that allows the FRB to approve a branch application if the appropriate authorities in the home country of the foreign bank are actively working to establish arrangements for the consolidated supervision of the bank submitting the application, and all other factors are consistent with approval. The FRB’s approval of CMB’s branch application opened the door for other Chinese banks to apply for branches in the United States. Thereafter, branch approvals based on similarly limited findings of CCS were granted by the FRB to ICBC in November of 2008 and to China Construction Bank Corporation in March of 2009. The “limited” CCS determination available for a branch application is not available for an application to acquire a U.S. bank under Section 3 of the BHC Act, which requires the FRB to make a full and unqualified CCS determination.

The FRB’s evaluation of whether ICBC is subject to CCS was foreshadowed in the FRB’s August 31, 2010 determination that CIC, an investment vehicle organized by the Chinese government, qualified under the CCS standard in the context of a Section 3 application for CIC’s non-controlling, but greater than 5%, investment in the shares of common stock of Morgan Stanley. The FRB explicitly noted, however, that that finding was based on both the unique nature and structure of CIC and the noncontrolling nature of the investment under consideration in that application. In addition, the FRB noted that, in evaluating a proposal by a Chinese bank to acquire a U.S. bank, the FRB would evaluate whether that Chinese bank is subject to CCS.

In the Order, the FRB detailed its exhaustive analysis on the CCS of ICBC by the China Banking Regulatory Commission and other regulatory authorities including, among others, the People’s Bank of China, the State Administration of Foreign Exchange, China Securities Regulatory Commission and China Insurance Regulatory Commission. The Order also noted the International Monetary Fund’s most recent determination that China’s overall regulatory and supervisory framework adheres to international standards. In addition, the FRB noted China’s efforts on combating money laundering and terrorism financing and found that the anti-money laundering efforts by ICBC and the Chinese regulators are consistent with approval.

The Order should create the opportunity for other leading Chinese banks to acquire U.S. banks of a relatively modest size. Although the CCS determination is nominally bank-specific, in practice a CCS determination for one bank in a country is typically precedential for all similarly situated banks in that country. In addition, because the FRB takes the position that a CCS determination is required before a foreign banking organization can obtain financial holding company (“FHC”) status, the Order should pave the way for Chinese banks and their holding companies that are subject to the BHC Act to become FHCs.