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Thursday, April 2, 2015, 13:34

Outbound Chinese buyers lead the charge

By Reuters

 Outbound Chinese buyers lead the charge

HONG KONG - ChemChina, which could soon face the task of integrating Italian tyre-maker Pirelli after its US$7.7 billion bid, can take heart in the knowledge that Chinese buyers have made a decent fist of growing global brands in recent years.

Backed by cheap funding and a huge home market, an army of mostly state-owned Chinese companies has marched beyond its borders, snapping up assets in a decade-long US$391 billion shopping spree.

Their record in the resources field is likely to be patchy, thanks to a slump in commodity prices, but the outcome elsewhere is much more encouraging.

For non-resources companies, Reuters reviewed China's 25 biggest overseas acquisitions of three years or older to determine the evolution of share price, revenue and margins. For seven of the deals there was insufficient information because either the target, the acquirer or both were unlisted.

But for 14 of them, all three measures improved for either the target or the buyer.

Success stories include the landmark 2004 purchase of International Business Machines' personal computer unit by Lenovo Group, the 2010 purchase of Ford Motor's

Volvo car unit by Geely Automobile Holdings, and Dalian Wanda's 2012 purchase of US cinema chain AMC Entertainment.

Only four underperformed, including SAIC Motor's purchase of South Korea's Ssanyong Motor in 2004 and Shandong Jining Ruyi Woolen Textile's takeover of Australia's Cubbie Group in 2012.

Chinese firms' inexperience in foreign acquisitions can raise doubts among targeted companies about integration, bankers and industry players say, which can in turn lead them to pay over the odds to convince a target. In other cases, Chinese bidders are simply more aggressive buyers.

In January, for example, Fosun International bought Club Mediterranee at a 62 percent premium to the average EV/EBITDA multiple of Club Med's four closest peers.

But Chinese buyers don't just put lots of money on the table, they also put a lot of thought into what they buy, said Keith Pogson, senior partner for Financial Services, Asia-Pacific at EY.

"The Chinese tend to have a better idea than foreign rivals of what their Chinese consumers want, of what would work in China," he said.

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