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HNA keeps looking for potential opportunities in B&R markets

By Chen Yingqun | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2017-11-03 08:56

Judging from the value, the $1bn acquisition of the CWT Ltd, a leading Singapore-listed provider of integrated logistics and supply chain solutions, by Hong Kong-listed HNA Holding Group isn't a big one compared with other recent deals done by Chinese firms in the overseas markets.

But the deal is a typical example of "small but beautiful", according to analysts and observers, as it highlights that China is redirecting its capital toward countries and regions involved in the Belt and Road Initiative.

HNA Innovation Finance Group (HNAIFG), to which HNA Holding Group belongs, has vowed to keep watching potential projects in countries involved in the Belt and Road Initiative.

CWT will be suspended from trading after Nov 2 due to an insufficient free float, after HNA Holding Group gained control more than 90 percent of the company.

Singapore Exchange regulations require a free float of at least 10 percent.

Founded in 1970, CWT is a leading provider of integrated logistics and supply chain solutions. Its portfolio covers commodity marketing, financial services, engineering services and logistics.

It operates in more than 90 countries, most of which are involved in the Belt and Road Initiative.

Acquiring CWT is a deal of "precise choice", Qi Guanghui, spokesman for HNAIFG, told China Daily, noting the group will continue to watch potential projects within its portfolio in Belt and Road regions.

Qi said the deal is "proceeding smoothly", but did not disclose the exact date when it will be completed.

"For HNA Holding Group, this overseas acquisition deal will improve its strategic location in bulk commodity trading," he said.

Qi added that, to support the Belt and Road Initiative, HNAIFG is "committed to becoming an international trade and finance investment group, contributing to connected infrastructures, smooth trade and free capital flow."

This year, the value of Chinese merger and acquisition deals in Belt and Road countries has to date picked up by more than 70 percent, despite an overall contraction in China outbound M&A following regulatory restrictions, according to Asset magazine, which engages with Asia's financial industry.

In 2016, Chinese investors were "big spenders", as Asset said, with the country's total outbound deal value soared to $209.2 billion. It has contracted by nearly a half to $110.9 billion so far in 2017.

However, the country's outbound M&A in Belt and Road countries is up 73 percent to date in 2017, compared to the same period in 2016, now standing at $37.8 billion in 2017 for completed deals, according to Mergermarket data.

This is a positive sign for China as it tries to steer domestic capital towards the original goal of the initiative: to improve infrastructure and enhance connectivity along the ancient Silk Road, Asset said.

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