Tag Archives: Investment

Chinese & Cuban Developers Plan Luxury Hotels Targeting “Future American Tourists”

“Hemingway Hotel” Set For Groundbreaking This Year, With A Distinctively US-Focused Target Consumer

Chinese construction firms have big plans for luxury developments in Cuba, as they foresee huge potential for American tourists in the future

Chinese construction firms have big plans for luxury developments in Cuba, as they foresee huge potential for American tourists in the future

Chinese investment in Cuba has largely flown under the radar in the last several years, mainly because China, unlike the former Soviet Union, has not cornered the market for foreign investment in the island nation. Large-scale construction projects have been undertaken by companies from a number of EU countries as well as Canada, but in the last few years there has been a push by Chinese state-run developers to get more market share as many see a (very) gradual thaw in relations between Cuba and the United States in coming years (and huge potential for the US tourism buck).

This week, Reuters reported that a Cuban-Chinese venture is set to break ground on a new luxury hotel focused primarily on the future American tourists that both countries assume will be eventually arrive, ready to splurge on a five-star long-verboten vacation spot:

State-run Suntine International-Economic Trading Company of China and Cuba’s Cubanacan hotel group are partners in the project, which will be a 600-room luxury hotel, the sources, who asked not to be identified, said over the weekend.

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Chinese Auction Buyers Find “Treasures For The Taking”

High Proportion Of New Chinese Collectors Boosting Sales As Economic Mood Remains Relatively Tepid In More Mature Markets

Up for auction in Hong Kong on October 6: Ai Weiwei's “A Gift from Beijing (set of three works)”

Up for auction in Hong Kong on October 6: Ai Weiwei's “A Gift from Beijing (set of three works)”

Next week, Sotheby’s will hold one of the most anticipated auctions of the season, its autumn auction of contemporary Chinese and other Asian art, in Hong Kong. For this closely-watched sale, the location is no coincidence. According to recent stories in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, The Economist and dozens of art blogs, mainland Chinese buyers have rapidly become one of the fastest-growing buyer and collector groups in the world. Considering art collection was virtually nonexistent for much of the last 60 years in China (and probably significantly longer than that), many newly wealthy Chinese are taking advantage of the readjustment in prices of pretty much anything up for grabs at auction to bring home everything from Chinese antiquities to contemporary art by living artists.

Whether they are doing this more for personal reasons (decorating their house while holding on to something of great financial value which is expected to grow along with the Chinese yuan) or for patriotic reasons remains to be known. My assumption is that there is a little bit of both involved.

In the run-up to the October 6 auction in Hong Kong, a spate of auctions of Chinese art have taken place over the past few weeks, with Chinese bidders going far beyond the estimates and shocking many observers. The new Chinese collector has, in many ways, signaled his arrival by the manner in which he’s seemed completely impervious to either the global economic slowdown or auction trends, and is quickly building a reputation as willing to spend, brash, motivated and savvy.

This week, on Economist.com, the Chinese collector’s knack for repatriating Chinese art is examined, with the writer concluding that auctions — as a buyer’s game — are all about who brings the money and who’s willing to spend it. At recent auctions (and, I would have to assume, future auctions) many of these individuals are mainland Chinese:

Anyone who believes the art market has been felled by the financial crisis should have been in New York earlier this month for the seasonal auctions of Chinese bronzes, furniture and ceramics. The salerooms at Sotheby’s and Christie’s were overflowing with bidders, more than three-quarters of them from Hong Kong, mainland China and Taiwan. Extra Mandarin-speakers, all of them fluent and young, had been taken on specially to handle additional telephone bidding from Asia.

Peoples’ Daily: China Outbound Investments to Eclipse Inbound for First Time

Chinese Firms, Sovereign Wealth Fund Taking Advantage Of More Affordable Investments Overseas In Wake Of Economic Slowdown

Graphic by Erik Bethel

Graphic by Erik Bethel

Chinese investment overseas has been one of the major news developments of the last year. Although Chinese outbound investment is nothing new, particularly after the country joined the WTO in 2001, falling asset values abroad — along with a gradually strengthening yuan — have made overseas investment a major priority for the government (and its state-owned enterprises) as well as private Chinese companies.

If a recent article by China’s Peoples’ Daily is, indeed, true, it looks like outbound investments, at nearly US$150 billion, nearly triple last year’s amount of US$52 billion, will continue the dramatic upward trend we’ve seen them follow over the last 5 or 6 years.

As Erik Bethel (an excellent source on investing in China and Latin America) writes in Seeking Alpha, the People’s Daily article highlights some quotes by Fan Chunyong, the standing director of China Industrial Overseas Development and Planning Association, in which he says that the sheer volume of year’s outbound investments by China — which are, at nearly US $150 billion, for the first time higher than inbound investments — indicate that China is already  making a shift from a “manufacturer” to a “capital exporter.”

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Rise Of New Chinese Collector Continues As Chinese Antiquities Remain “Recession Proof”

Astronomical Prices Paid For Historical And Quality Pieces In Recent Asian Auctions Defies Global Economic Woes As More Chinese Collectors Get In The Game

In October, Sotheby's will put on a large-scale sale of Asian art in Hong Kong. Will The New Chinese Collector continue to flex his (or her) muscles at that sale?

Since good works by historical artists like Yue Minjun are becoming more scarce, Chinese collectors are expected to continue to flex their muscles in upcoming auctions of Chinese contemporary art

Hardly any industry has escaped the global economic slowdown unscathed, and art is no exception, but recent auction results indicate that the art market — or at least pockets of the art market — are coming back to life. As the Wall Street Journal reports today, in some recent auctions some pieces have sold for exponentially more than their estimates, surprising collectors and market analysts alike. The common bond shared by most of these pieces? They were Chinese — or, if not Chinese, Asian:

Last week, the longest string of Asian art sales since the Zodiac clock dispute was held in the U.S.—and amid the most entrenched art-market recession in nearly two decades, the auction prices of many more than a handful of pieces went through the roof. At the Sotheby’s sale of works from the collection of Arthur M. Sackler, for example, the auctioneer sang out fast-rising numbers, first in English, then Chinese, as if he were rising in the elevator of some fantastically tall Hong Kong skyscraper.

The emergence of the New Chinese Collector is a subject we’ve followed pretty much since our inception, and is a subject that is endlessly fascinating simply because it’s such a new phenomenon. While, technically, Chinese people have collected art for a few thousand years — with the exception of a few Mao-era decades where the practice was virtually nonexistent but for a few elite art lovers here and there — the New Chinese Collector has only existed for around 20 years, and arguably even less than that. This collector base was out in full force in recent auctions of Chinese and other Asian art — in New York, London and Hong Kong — and the motivation, desire and intensity of the Chinese collector is becoming somewhat legendary right before our eyes.

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Warren Buffett Gives Little-Known Chinese Clothier A Global Boost

Buffett’s Endorsement Of Trands, Suitmaker For China’s Government Elite, Gives Small Clothing Brand International Notoriety

Warren Buffett's endorsement of Chinese high-end menswear designer Trands sent its stocks soaring

Warren Buffett's endorsement of Chinese high-end menswear designer Trands sent its stocks soaring

Warren Buffett’s interest in China as an investment destination is well known, and his words of praise for (or investments in) the occasional Chinese company seems to have the effect of boosting that company’s visibility abroad virtually overnight. H is company’s $230 million investment in Chinese electric and hybrid automaker BYD has elevated what was only a few years ago a fledgling battery maker into a brand which is set to enter the US market as early as next year. So for little-known (even in China) Chinese menswear designer Trands, Buffett’s endorsement of his newest Chinese-brand-of-the-moment is definitely exciting news — especially because their stocks have risen 70% since the release of a video in which Buffett extols the brand’s qualities. As the Wall Street Journal writes today,

Move over Brioni, the truly rich and powerful are wearing Trands.

The obscure menswear label is produced by Dayang Group, a clothing company founded by Li Guilian, 63 years old, a diminutive farmer-turned-fashion mogul, in northeast China.

Ms. Li’s company got a major boost after Mr. Buffett, chairman and chief executive of Berkshire Hathaway Inc., recently appeared in a Dayang promotional video, posted on the company’s Web site. He heaped praise on Ms. Li, her company, and the nine Trands suits he proudly owns. Shares of Dayang’s Shanghai-listed subsidiary, Dalian Dayang Trands Co., have soared by more than 70% since the video was posted on Sept. 10.
 

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World Gold Council Planning Huge Sales Push In Rural China

Council Hoping Government Stimulus Measures Will Spur Consumption In Notoriously Frugal Rural Areas

China is one of the world's top gold markets, owing to its growing middle-class consumption and reliance on gold as a traditional hedge

China is one of the world's top gold markets, owing to its growing middle-class consumption and reliance on gold as a traditional hedge

Shanghai Daily reports today that the World Gold Council has started a major sales drive in rural China, banking on indications that the country’s second- and third-tier cities have more sales potential than their first-tier counterparts in terms of gold consumption. This sales push follows similar drives by antiques, visual artsshopping center and luxury car companies to attract customers in China’s interior — where any semblance of “luxury fatigue” has yet to sink in and the middle class is seeing gradual growth.

As one of China’s traditional hedges, the World Gold Council is banking on gold’s allure to buyers in remote areas both for its value as well as its cultural resonance.

“Rural areas showed better-than-expected demand for gold in the first half in China,” said Gerry Chen, business development manager China of World Gold Council.

China is the only country in the world where gold jewelry demand has risen in the aftermath of the world financial crisis, the council said. Sales in China’s mainland rose 9 percent in the first half, while global demand contracted 8 percent.

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Luxury Watch Brand Richard Mille Opens Flagship Store In Beijing

Watchmaking Iconoclast’s New Location At Jin Bao Street’s Legendale Hotel Features Decor And Accents Shipped From Paris

Richard Mille's flagship store in Beijing brings an air of bygone Europe to Beijing's Jin Bao Street

Richard Mille's flagship store in Beijing brings an air of bygone Europe to Beijing's Jin Bao Street

Richard Mille, the French luxury watch brand,has just opened a flagship store in Beijing’s five-star Legendale Hotel, according to a company press release. Mille’s fixation with high-tech materials and unique alloys inspired by F-1 motorsport and the aerospace industry, has made him one of the most unusual — and fastest-rising — luxury watch forces in the world, and with the flood of spending we’ve seen in China on luxury goods like watches, cars, wine, jewelry and contemporary art, Beijing’s flagship Mille store should attract the city’s free-spending elite in no time.

[T]he flagship occupies 260 square meters of space at this platinum 5-star hotel that represents European elegance and luxury in the heart of this capital of the People’s Republic of China. With such a prime address and grand interiors, Sparkle Roll Group Limited, the exclusive dealer of Richard Mille in PRC, invested HK$45 million in building this flagship in Beijing.

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China Now World’s Fastest-Growing Diamond Market

Country Should Overtake Japan As Second Largest Diamond Market By Sales Volume Within The Year

Diamonds are a "must have" for China's growing luxury consumer class

Diamonds are a "must have" for China's growing luxury consumer class

Falling demand for luxury products of all shades has vaulted China to the top of many lists this year, as demand in developed markets has fallen for everything from luxury cars to five-star hotels. With China’s massive population and growing middle class, even gradual growth in demand can mean a great deal for luxury brands, so diamond producers can continue to be optimistic about the potential for their products in China — soon to be the world’s second largest diamond market by sales, if the projections of Freddy Hanard, chief executive officer of the Antwerp World Diamond Centre, are correct.

As the Financial Times writes today, Hanard predicts that diamond sales in China should continue the double-digit growth they saw in the first half of the year to continue throughout the second, and says that sales could possibly double in 2010. As the thirst for luxury products continues to spread in China’s second- and third-tier cities, and wealthier Chinese maintain their desire to diversify luxury and high-value holdings — something that we have seen in recent years as they’ve increasingly purchased luxury cars, gold, rare watches and jewelry, fine wine, contemporary art from China and elsewhere, and real estate — diamonds will probably remain strongly in demand according to all indications.

“China is the world’s fastest growing diamond market. And it can go very fast. It is still discovering diamonds,” said Mr Hanard.

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Wynn To Seek $1.6 Billion In Hong Kong IPO: WSJ

IPO Follows Record Revenue In Macau Last Month And Indications That Beijing Will Loosen Visa Restrictions F0r Mainland Chinese

Macau, the "Vegas of the East," is bouncing back to life after a tough year

Macau, the "Vegas of the East," is bouncing back to life after a tough year

The Wall Street Journal reports today that Las Vegas-based casino operator Wynn Resorts is looking for as much as US$1.6 billion (HK$ 12.6 billion) “based on pricing set over the weekend for a Hong Kong listing of the company’s Macau assets next month.” This IPO could precede others by foreign casinos in Macau, as the article notes that Wynn competitor Sheldon Adelson may also be eyeing a Hong Kong listing for his company as it emerges from the global economic downturn — which put a sizeable dent in several construction projects that had been slated for the Venetian Macau last year.

The relatively quick rebound of the Chinese tourist (or, even more likely, Cantonese gambling enthusiasts from Hong Kong, Shenzhen and elsewhere in Guangdong province) has injected a much-needed dose of optimism among major companies in Macau, which depend greatly on the continued spending and investment of mainland Chinese visitors and companies as well as the capital and expertise of foreign casino operators like Wynn to keep the former Portuguese colony’s growing economy running smoothly.

Over the weekend, Wynn and its bankers set a price range of between HK$8.52 and HK$10.08 per share for the IPO, the person said. The company is offering 1.25 billion shares, equivalent to 25% of the equity of Wynn’s Macau operations, the person added. The company had earlier been expected to raise about US$1 billion in its offering.

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Fashion: From “Made In China” To “Owned By China”

Acquisition Of High-Profile Western Brands By Chinese Companies Gives Chinese Designers And Brands Broader Distribution Base

Pierre Cardin has become one of the most recognizable and coveted foreign brands in China since entering the market in 1978. Photo (c) CRI English

Pierre Cardin was recently acquired by a Chinese fashion company, boosting the popular brand's reach in the China market. Photo (c) CRI English

In the wake of the global economic crisis, several Chinese companies have gone on global shopping sprees, spurred by the one-two punch of a drop in luxury consumption in developed markets and a motivation to control the sale of high-profit luxury goods inside the Chinese mainland. Although China, as the world’s most populous nation, has a massive consumer base, much of that base remains far below the income level of regular luxury consumers, meaning domestic companies often experience a difficult conundrum — if they want to tap into the wallets of China’s 1.3 billion consumers, they generally have only two real choices — toss brand equity aside and focus on the lowest-price-point consumer or bring a foreign brand with much higher brand equity to China and target the emerging middle class and wealthy consumers. As a result, the transition from local to global (or maybe more accurately, glocal), seems natural. In the capitalism-on-speed world of China’s major metropolitan areas, either you go global or you’re crushed by your competitors.

This week, the subject of Chinese companies purchasing established western fashion brands was raised in a Reuters article (via Canada’s Financial Post), which focused on the delicate balance some major Chinese companies are dealing with at the moment — whether to try to purchase distressed foreign brands to sell in the brands’ existing established markets or simply to buy the brands then control them as they please within the Chinese market. There is no guarantee that consumers in developed markets will bounce back from the recession to spend as freely on luxury goods and haute couture as they once did, but at the same time the majority of Chinese consumers are not in the market for these goods. Additionally, Chinese fashion companies may not yet have the management experience necessary to oversee a western brand (or its employees) in its usual markets, so time will probably be necessary for Chinese companies to work out the kinks that would emerge down the road if they were to focus too strongly on overseas markets.

According to some sources — such as the exporter interviewed in the Reuters article — Chinese companies shopping for western fashion brands would be better off counting on the continued growth of the Chinese middle class, as this area should see sustained growth that may outpace the rebound of the consumer in developed countries.

After decades of Made-in-China garments, China’s fashion industry is keen to move on from being just a mass manufacturer of clothes. It now wants to own western brands and to sell them to China’s 1.3 billion consumers.

The right to sell brands of several international fashion labels locally, such as Aquascutum and Pierre Cardin, have been recently acquired by Chinese clothes makers and sellers.

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