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Chinese firms to continue M&A global expansion

By Sophie He | China Daily | Updated: 2017-03-07 08:01

Chinese companies are expected to continue to expand their global reach across a broader mix of industries, said David Fleming, partner and M&A specialist at international law firm Baker McKenzie.

He said uncertainties are unlikely to affect Chinese corporate investments in the Asia-Pacific region-including ASEAN members-fueling growth in industries ranging from food and health to telecoms and tech.

"Deals won't stop," Fleming said.

The expected quickening of cross-border investments from China is also in line with China's Belt and Road Initiative, which promotes business ties with nations along the ancient Silk Road connecting China and Europe, Africa and the rest of Asia.

At the same time, Fleming did see the inevitability for Chinese companies to adopt a more sophisticated approach and be more careful in a number of operations in their overseas expansion.

"To make successful deals, they will have to adjust their action strategies, deal sizes and structures, exchange and cost management policies, and corresponding legal practices in pursuit of mergers and acquisitions," Fleming said.

Based on their previous experience in Europe and elsewhere, companies would have to take a longer-term view and perhaps employ a more selective M&A approach.

Second, they were advised to act early to involve specialist services in the legal and other professional fields in the deal process.

Third, they needed to be more careful and flexible in designing the deal structure in order to mitigate a single company's exposure to any potential risk.

Fleming also said that companies must engage with local regulatory authorities early on in the process.

He also said that companies needed to consider the role that the media could play in a deal.

Deals that are pending regulatory approval are often reported in the media. Companies should be more sensitive to local prevailing social conditions, he said.

At a time of rising populism, companies were advised to be more careful and involve local public relations expertise and the local media.

Overall, Fleming remained confident that Chinese companies would continue to go overseas to seek diversification. He added that 2017 would be a year of continuation.

The Baker McKenzie M&A specialist said Chinese companies were quick learners and would work very hard to pursue their goals.

Legal services in China, including Baker McKenzie's Chinese partners, were making progress to adapt to the needs of their clients, "in order to be where deals are", Fleming said.

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