UBS’s China Head Sees M&A Deal Size Shrinking Amid Capital Curbsby
Expects deals in $1 billion to “couple of billion" range
Eugene Qian doesn’t see big drop in number of China deals
Chinese companies’ overseas acquisitions will probably decline in size amid tighter government controls on currency outflows, according to UBS Group AG’s China head.
While UBS isn’t feeling any impact from the capital controls on mergers and acquisitions yet, deals this year are more likely to be in the range of $1 billion to “a couple of billion” rather than the “elephant deals” seen last year, China President Eugene Qian said.
“We don’t see a significant drop” in the number of deals from last year, Qian said in an interview with Bloomberg Television’s Tom Mackenzie in Shanghai. “The bona fide, the real strategic-driven, cross-border M&A will continue to happen. We’re now in a number of very active, live deal discussions on behalf of Chinese companies.”
China is seeking to tame a record deal-making spree as part of an effort to clamp down on capital flight amid concern that a weakening currency could further spur outflows. The country is planning curbs on its companies’ overseas acquisitions, including barring most foreign investments of $10 billion or more, people with knowledge of the matter said in late November.
The government will generally suspend several categories of deals while still leaving room for some strategic transactions to be executed, the people said, asking not to be identified because the information is private. It will restrict overseas investments of at least $1 billion in industries outside a buyer’s core business, as well as foreign property deals of $1 billion or more by state-owned enterprises, the people said.
Chinese companies announced a record $248.5 billion of overseas acquisitions in 2016, more than double the amount from the previous year, data compiled by Bloomberg show. Last year’s deals included the proposed $43 billion takeover of Switzerland’s Syngenta AG by China National Chemical Corp., which would be the biggest-ever foreign acquisition by a Chinese company.