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Societe Generale happy to be in 'China's development story'

China Daily | Updated: 2017-03-15 09:03

Societe Generale happy to be in 'China's development story'

Anne Marion-Bouchacourt, chairman of Societe Generale (China) Ltd [Photo provided to China Daily]

Q: What do you think of China's economic growth target of about 6.5 percent this year, amid the sluggish global recovery? What business opportunities do you see coming from sectors that will be opened to wider foreign investment, such as services, manufacturing and mining?

A: In the Government Work Report, the growth target was softened to "about 6.5" percent for this year, from 6.5 to 7 percent for last year. This is in line with our estimate for this year because it will allow the government to "achieve improvement while maintaining stability". This is ambitious because there is a need to restructure sectors with overcapacity, such as steel, coal and cement, which will cut jobs. This needs to be balanced by job creation in the manufacturing and the service sectors, and it puts pressure to deliver on plans such as Made in China 2025, where the country wants raise up the value chain.

Q: How do you assess the role of the Chinese market in your global business strategy and layout? What are your views on China's efforts and extended preferential policies to further attract foreign investment? Do you plan to increase investment or expand your presence in the Chinese market this year?

A: We are positioned as a bridge for Chinese corporates and financial institutions to venture abroad and for multinational companies to invest in China. With our strong credentials in the debt capital markets, mergers and acquisitions, project finance in energy and the natural resources sectors, risk management for commodities, interest rates and foreign exchange, trade finance, investment solutions, and our presence in Africa, Russia and Eastern and Western Europe, we are playing a key role in supporting Chinese corporates and financial institutions in their overseas ventures.

Q: What business opportunities do you expect to see as China promotes the Belt and Road Initiative? Have you participated in, or do you plan to participate in, any projects linked with the initiative? How do you think infrastructure investment can contribute to global growth?

A: In the short term, the Belt and Road Initiative will bring a lot of opportunities around infrastructure-railways, highways, pipeline, projects for energy and natural resources, and the construction of industrial zones. Societe Generale, with its presence in 65 economies, of which 32 are on the routes of the Belt and Road Initiative as a unique advantage, can serve Chinese corporates when they want to set an operation, finance an infrastructure project or hedge risks.

Q: This year, China will continue to implement supply-side reform. What does the reform mean for your business, and how will you adjust your business strategy in China to deal with it?

A: The supply-side reform means the government is determined to upgrade its industries so more of them make profits. We expect it to create international champions, which will look for international expansion via M&A, spin-offs and reverse acquisitions, especially in areas such as construction engineering, telecommunications and nuclear and renewable power. For us, it will mean continuous opportunities to support them in overseas ventures, using our understanding of different geographies, and bringing the best financing and hedging solutions to make their projects successful.

Q: What is your opinion of China's efforts to upgrade its manufacturing capabilities and promote innovation? Will China's innovation-driven campaign spur the vitality and competitiveness of the economy?

A: China's efforts to upgrade its manufacturing capacities and boost innovation is clearly outlined in its ambitious Made in China 2025 program.

We expect key players to climb up the value chain, but also further push the limits, thanks to their research and development investment.

We expect a lot of innovation from China in areas such as the internet of things, artificial intelligence and smart manufacturing. We think China's size and its ability to test new concepts will allow it to produce devices quickly and at reasonable prices that contain all the new technologies that can be used in many fields, such as medical, manufacturing with smart robots and autonomous vehicles.

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