Thursday, August 23, 2012

Betrayers unite for personal profit - China's mining investment losses in Australia - switch to food

Nationalistic Australian citizens have voiced concern and opposition to selling more national assets to the Chinese despite the tremendous gains and spinoffs from foreign capital inflow. Aussies are not anti-foreigners as long as foreign ownership is exceeded by US (or a western nation) to offset undesirable influences from another state. 

In reality, Chinese state companies have been reformed since the 1980s and behave like private enterprises though the level of accountability is not well established ... not that all non-Chinese corporations are free from rigidity and unethical conduct.

In most transactions, the buyer and seller stand to gain or else there is no deal. Cash loaded and enthusiastic, China state owned enterprises have been lured and wooed by the opportunistic firms who are keen to sell.

Despite investment restrictions, the Chinese have quite successfully bought up many mine shares to feed its mills back home. From hindsight, this is a blotched plan rather than an achievement. It would not be an overstating Chinese losses in the millions if not billions for purchasing overrated companies, changing market conditions, poor performance and unforeseen results. The true picture is probably less rosy than that painted by the buyers and sellers or what is reported in the media. There are good reasons why officials and business managers want to portray it negatively to cover their folly or mistakes. 

Inevitably, the topic of corruption cannot be evaded. Mistakes cannot be attributed mainly to innocent miscalculation, lack of due diligence and market changes as a result of falling production. Surely the Chinese investors are smarter and the Australian sellers would play harder to get. We may never know how much kickbacks were involved. 

Credit must be given to the Chinese for quick thinking and adjustments. Now, Chinese investors have decided that the mining sector is jinx. It is high time that the government directs investors to diversify into other sectors rather than placing all the bets in fading minerals sector.

Attention is now turned to the next most important resource - food - to feed its billions of people. More Chinese are investing in Australian farms recently. 

KPMG Australia’s China Practice, said that Chinese companies are showing an increasing appetite for investing in Australia’s food sector “from gate to plate” as they seek to meet rising food demand at home and capture more expertise from Australia’s companies and farmers.  

Banks, both domestic and Chinese, are also increasingly interested in financing the sector at a time when many miners and energy producers are struggling to secure financing for new projects in the face of falling commodity prices and concerns of a falloff in demand ...

Another indication of change is China investing in mines (and others) elsewhere where the government and people may be less hostile to Chinese money.

Nevertheless, merely containing the damage will not solve the fundamental problems that has wasted Chinese funds which could be better spent helping its poor and boosting domestic development and consumption. 

Attempts to monitor and penalise corrupt officials venturing overseas have been put in place but with limited success. Reports of arrests have been random and rare, for most have used their positions to amass personal wealth and enrich their cronies at the expense of the nation's benefit with little reprisals.

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