CONSIDERING the size of China’s economy, it seems inevitable that its firms will eventually play a huge role on the world stage. Yet China Inc’s adventures abroad in the past 15 years have been a mixed bag. Thousands of small deals have taken place, some of which will succeed. But of the mergers and acquisitions that have been worth $1bn or more, it is a different story. There have been 56 abandoned deals, 39 state-backed acquisitions of commodities firms at frothy prices, and, lately, wild sprees by tycoons scooping up trophies such as hotels and football clubs.
Some deals defy any conventional logic. Last month HNA, an airlines-and-tourism conglomerate from Hainan, said it had bought a 10% stake in Deutsche Bank, having earlier considered buying a Landesbank. The Chinese firm, which runs a beach-volleyball tournament in Beijing, appears to think it can consolidate Germany’s fragmented banking industry—the financial equivalent of bringing peace to the Middle East. If China Inc is…Continue reading