China’s Growing Ardor for Overseas Shopping
Nelson Peltz sat on the board of Legg Mason, the $3.7 billion asset management company, for five years while his hedge fund, Trian Partners, scooped up 10 percent of the company’s stock.
纳尔逊·佩尔茨(Nelson Peltz)在管理着37亿美元的资产管理公司美盛集团(Legg Mason)董事会里待了五年，同时他的对冲基金特里安合伙人(Trian Partners)拿到该公司10%的股份。
Mr. Peltz shook things up as he always does. He ousted the chief executive and got Legg to cut costs and return billions of dollars to shareholders. When it came time to exit the investment, Mr. Peltz sold his shares to the Shanda Group.
Wait, what? You heard right. Shanda is a Chinese investment company that started out as an interactive-gaming company but now “seeks global opportunities that offer business growth or unique breakthrough potential.” On Tuesday, it spent $340 million to buy Mr. Peltz’s stake in Legg, which got its start selling stocks out of a back office in the Baltimore Stock Exchange in 1899.
等等，什么？你没听错。盛大是中国的一家投资公司，靠互动游戏起家，但现在“寻求全球能带来业务增长或独特突破潜力的机会”。周二，该公司出资3.4亿美元收购了佩尔茨所持有的美盛股份。成立于1899年的美盛，最初是在巴尔的摩股票交易所(Baltimore Stock Exchange)的交易后台卖股票起家的。
The logic of this deal is hard to follow – not least because Shanda paid a premium to the market price for the Legg shares, something that almost nobody ever does for a passive minority stake. Yet such situations are hardly unique at a moment when Chinese companies and investors are going wild for assets of pretty much any color or stripe in the world’s developed economies.
Indeed, the Chinese ardor for overseas shopping has become so fervent that there’s a new mantra making the rounds of Wall Street bankers who have an asset to sell anywhere in the world: “Who’s the Chinese buyer we’ve never heard of?”
The biggest advisory companies like Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs routinely fly China specialists across the ocean when they pitch companies for the mandate to help sell a business.
摩根士丹利(Morgan Stanley)和高盛(Goldman Sachs)等首屈一指的咨询公司隔三差五就要让其中国专家飞赴大洋彼岸，把委托它们协助出售的企业介绍给那里的公司。
The surge in Chinese buyers, many of them unknown in the West – sometimes even in Hong Kong — requires a new level of due diligence and heightened vigilance, from banks, lawyers and accountants. As the curious case of Anbang Insurance’s aborted – and inexplicable from the start – $14 billion bid for Starwood Hotels suggests, it’s harder for investment banks to really understand their Chinese clients’ motivations.
The China National Chemical Corporation’s $43 billion takeover of the agrochemicals giant Syngenta falls squarely into the first category. The state-owned enterprise was set up by the country’s former Ministry of Chemical Industry.
The Syngenta deal looks like it is intended to satisfy China’s goals to bolster food production in the world’s largest agricultural market. Syngenta’s chemicals and patent-protected seeds are a strategic asset for a nation that has a population of 1.4 billion. This deal, China’s biggest foreign acquisition, is a relatively logical pairing.
The same cannot be said of Shandong Ruyi’s surprise $1.2 billion purchase last month of SMCP, the operator of the second-tier European fashion chains Sandro, Maje and Claudie Pierlot. It’s hard to argue, as Shandong Ruyi does on its website, that “being involved in rabbit-hair spinning, textile & clothing, cotton textile, cotton printing and dyeing, knitting, fiber, jeans and real estate” has made it a “well-known textile-related pluralism group.” Still, kudos to the enterprising banker who alerted the firm to the willingness of the owner, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, to part with the French retailer.
但对上月山东如意出人意料地出资12亿美元收购SMCP一事，就不能这么说了。SMCP旗下拥有欧洲二线服装连锁品牌Sandro、Maje和Claudie Pierlot。山东如意在其网站上称，“兔毛纺纱、纺织制衣、棉纺、棉印染、针织、纤维、牛仔布和房地产领域的业务”让其成为了一家“著名的纺织相关多元化集团”，这让人很难争辩什么。但还是要钦佩那位富有进取心的银行家，他竟会把SMCP所有人科尔伯格-克拉维斯-罗伯茨(Kohlberg Kravis Roberts)出售这家法国零售商的意向告知该公司。
At least Shandong Ruyi has a website. In the auction of Dah Sing Financial’s insurance business, more than two dozen suitors showed up for the first round of bids, half of them from the mainland, and some so obscure that bankers involved in the process had never heard of them.
至少山东如意有自己的网站。在大新金融(Dah Sing Financial)的保险业务拍卖会上，二十多家有意向的公司发出了第一轮要约，一半来自中国大陆，其中一些太过籍籍无名，以至参与这个过程的银行业人士从未听说过它们。
That’s not unusual. When the private equity firm EQT was selling a German company that generates energy from waste matter, eight interested parties from the mainland showed up. And unlike banks or insurers interested in Dah Sing, they weren’t highly regulated entities. In the end, the business sold for 1.43 billion euros to Beijing Enterprises Holding, a conglomerate listed in Hong Kong with three business lines: gas, beer and sewage treatment.
China’s lunge for foreign assets has hit $92 billion so far this year, according to Thomson Reuters, nearly reaching last year’s $103 billion record with eight and a half months to spare.
At that pace, it won’t be long before Mandarin solidly displaces money as the language of opportunity on Wall Street.