A few weekend developments to wrap up a busy week
1. Richard Spencer, the departing Beijing bureau chief for Britain’s Daily Telegraph was interviewed by Danwei about China’s prospects for global investment. When asked, “What do you think will be the impact of all these Chinese investment and takeovers in the future?”:
That’s the million dollar question. China’s trying to avoid the fate of Japan which spent a lot of foreign exchange buying showpiece companies abroad in the 80s, many of which then crashed. So it’s buying many more smaller, strategic stakes in companies and sectors like energy and resources round the world. On the face of it that’s a much more sensible approach and gives it the chance to build up long-term relationships and use them as a launch-pad for greater control later. But of course there’s a danger with the downturn that they will have the same problem in a different way – small stakes of declining value in which their stakes aren’t big enough to give them influence. It’s a tough one for them. But one thing is for sure – the forex reserves are the national pension plan.
2. Chinese gaming company Changyou, a subsidiary of Chinese internet portal Sohu, had a great day following its IPO on the NASDAQ:
Of the total of 7,500,000 American Depositary Shares of Changyou that were being offered in the initial public offering, 3,750,000 ADSs were being offered by Changyou and 3,750,000 ADSs, plus up to an additional 1,125,000 ADSs to cover over-allotments, are being offered by an indirect wholly-owned subsidiary of Sohu.
3. John Pomfret writes on China’s growing role in international affairs, as reflected in the country’s increased pledge of funds to the IMF:
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown announced that China will provide $40 billion extra to the IMF. That’s a big chunk of change. Especially for China. In total the IMF is raising $750 billion.
As Caijing magazine (China’s best business publication) noted the new money is well above China’s voting share in the IMF and “another sign of the mainland’s desire to take a larger role in the global economy.” China’s contribution represents 5.3 percent of the new funds, as against its voting rights of 3.8 percent within the organization.
For years China has boxed below its weight internationally. Deng Xiaoping, the man who brought economic reforms to China, urged the Communist Party to keep a low profile in international affairs. But now, slowly, spasmodically, that seems to be changing.
4. Southeast Asian artists struggled at Sotheby’s Southeast Asian art auction in Hong Kong yesterday. All eyes are on the results of the imminent contemporary Chinese artwork auction. More on this tomorrow.
A work by I Nyoman Masriadi was the top lot yesterday in Sotheby’s Hong Kong auction — at a price that was a fifth of the record for the artist set last year. Art dealers said demand was being held back by economic weakness.
Masriadi’s 2008 acrylic-on-canvas painting “Negosiasi” (“Negotiation”) fetched HK$1.7 million, against a presale top estimate of HK$800,000, which excluded buyer’s commission. Last October, a Masriadi image of boxers sold for HK$7.8 million ($1 million), the most for Southeast Asian contemporary art.
“It’s a difficult market for Southeast Asian art,” Zhao Xu, a Beijing-based art collector, said in an interview at the sale. “Many Indonesians couldn’t buy even if they wanted to.”