Buyout firms and VCs held back by crisis
By Zhang Qi (China Daily)
Updated: 2008-10-27 15:55

As a result, they are also trying to cut the prices for deals that have yet to be finished.

China's flagship telecom equipment maker Huawei Technologies, earlier this month announced it had suspended the auction of a stake in its terminal unit, falling victim to the ongoing financial crisis.

US private equity groups Bain Capital and Silver Lake had been in talks with Huawei over the deal, which could be worth about $2 billion.

The deal was expected to be finalized in November, insiders said.

However, the two US companies hoped to cut the value of the deal, citing the economic crisis, but Huawei rejected this, insiders said.

US private equity giant Blackstone has been negotiating a deal worth $160 million to buy a 90 percent stake in a commercial building in Shanghai from Hong Kong-listed VXL Capital.

Blackstone dropped the deal because it couldn't agree on the price with VXL, according to some media reports.

Industry observers blame the stalled deal on the slumping property prices and global financial woes.

VXL later denied the media reports, saying it was still pressing ahead with the deal but acknowledging the closing date for the deal has been "rescheduled".

Poor buying sentiment

According to a report released by Beijing-based research house ChinaVenture last Wednesday, the private equity investment in China dropped to $2.12 billion in the third quarter of this year, a decrease of 17.1 percent from the previous quarter.

Disclosed deals numbered only 19, compared to 33 in the previous quarter.

Morgan Stanley was the largest private equity investor in the third quarter by investing a total of $770 million.

As many of the investors themselves are already sunk, those deals, which have been already closed, may also be affected.

"When we heard the news (Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy) on September 15, the first thing we did was to check whether we had any business link with Lehman Brothers as well as whether it has any link with the company in which we had an investment," Tsang Kwong Yue Conrad, a Principal with Baring Private Equity Asia, was cited by the China Business News as saying.

Baring Private Equity Asia later found a VC arm of Lehmand held a 20 percent stake in a company in which Baring had an investment.

"What came to my mind first at that time was: what would happen if Lehmans chose liquidation?" recalled Tsang.

"And I was wondering how the liquidation would affect our own business if Lehman chose to sell its stake at any price."

Later, Japan's Nomura Holdings Inc acquired Lehman's Asian assets after the US investment bank went bust.

Then a new problem arose. "Now I'm wandering whether Nomura would choose to hold the stake on the company (we invested) or just sell it?" Tsang said.

(For more biz stories, please visit Industries)

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