【英语财经】亚洲将迎来企业并购热潮? Asia needs its own bold deal to awaken animal spirits

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2014-6-3 07:35

小艾摘要: When Pfizer has $100bn to spend and even Warren Buffett is discussing $50bn deals, a pair of Asian bids totalling $2.5bn may look like mere crumbs for bankers stuck in the boondocks of the merger worl ...
Asia needs its own bold deal to awaken animal spirits
When Pfizer has $100bn to spend and even Warren Buffett is discussing $50bn deals, a pair of Asian bids totalling $2.5bn may look like mere crumbs for bankers stuck in the boondocks of the merger world. But the deals in question – a southeast Asian offer for Australia’s Goodman Fielder last week and a Chinese approach this week for Aquila Resources from the same country – suggest the stirrings of Asia’s own animal spirits.

Deal activity in Asia is already at an all-time record for this point in the year. Offers launched for local targets have totalled $262.4bn, according to Dealogic, surpassing 2007. That figure does not even include landmark outbound deals such as Japan’s Suntory spending $16bn on Jim Beam, the US whiskey maker.

But the total does count two deals that are not strictly M&A and which, if removed, would mean 2014 is not a record – yet. These are Citic Group’s reversal of $37bn of assets into Citic Pacific, its Hong Kong vehicle, and Temasek’s $5.7bn quarter-stake in Li Ka-shing’s Watsons retail chain. In other words, this boom still has its roots in the region’s traditions of uncontested part-stake deals and asset-shuffling among related, tightly controlled companies.

“These aren’t really M&A in the global sense, but they are how Asia works,” said Joe Gallagher, co-head of Asia-Pacific M&A at Credit Suisse, who is cautious on the general mood. “It is improving, but you have to go behind the numbers and look at the levels of inquiry we’re seeing – it’s not like the US and Europe.”

The two Australian deals are worth watching. Goodman Fielder, a bakery group, last week rebuffed the $1.2bn offer from two tycoon families, Malaysia’s Kuoks and Indonesia’s Salims. Regardless of the final outcome, the offer implies a revival of deal appetite in southeast Asia. Tycoons tend to be among the most opaque operators in a hard-to-read region but crucially, they usually have cash to hand – or willing lenders.

The other deal involves China’s Baosteel this week offering $1bn for the 80 per cent of Aquila Resources it does not already own. Aquila’s key asset is its half-stake in an iron ore project in Australia’s Pilbara region in need of development. Chinese demand for iron ore is nothing new. But its record on producing the stuff itself down under is appalling – witness Sino Iron, the 2006 Australian venture led by Citic Pacific, which is five times over its original budget and only just starting to ship ore. A lack of local understanding played a big part in its problems. Baosteel’s tactics show it has learnt from that. Partnering with Aurizon, an Australian freight specialist, gives it a local voice and added technical credibility.

Baosteel’s bid also points to something more unexpected: Chinese groups’ renewed deal interest and confidence in securing financing. A survey last week of top executives there by EY showed 59 per cent think credit availability is improving, compared with 49 per cent in October. Two-fifths believe they will raise leverage in the next 12 months versus one-third saying that previously.

Food-related deals are a likely target of Chinese interest. Cofco, the state-owned grains trader, has already this year taken a majority stake in Nidera, the Dutch trader, and is setting up a joint venture with Noble Group. Cofco’s deals follow a string of global agribusiness tie-ups. Colin Banfield, head of M&A for Asia-Pacific at Citigroup, expects the region will continue to echo such global themes. “There will be a knock-on effect. We will catch this M&A fever, but it won’t necessarily have identical characteristics,” he said.

Pharma is one area where M&A could strike. Mega-deals like Pfizer’s $100bn bid for AstraZeneca are being driven by the search for cost efficiencies and growth. The biggest pharma deal in Asia this year is the $3.2bn bid by India’s Sun Pharmaceuticals for Ranbaxy. It will create the country’s biggest drugmaker, but it is based less in bigger-is-better than Ranbaxy’s problems – it has been banned from selling its generic drugs in the US.

Asia’s animal spirits typically show themselves as much through new listings as M&A deals. Last week’s pulled float of WH Group, the Sino-US pork producer, suggests a more uncertain mood. But that mood could in fact spur M&A.

“When I see market volatility, I get excited. One of the things that keeps M&A strong is uncertainty, because it means companies needing capital turn to other sources such as other companies,” said Bob Partridge, head of EY’s Greater China transactions team.

In other words, the deal conditions are there. Now the region needs to produce a deal bold enough to justify all the activity.

Jennifer Hughes is the Financial Times’ Asia Financial Correspondent

当辉瑞(Pfizer)准备拿出1000亿美元进行收购,甚至沃伦?巴菲特(Warren Buffett)也在讨论500亿美元的交易时,两笔总额为25亿美元的亚洲交易,看起来或许只是给困在并购世界边缘地带的银行家们准备的“面包屑”。但这两笔拟议中的交易表明,亚洲自己的动物精神在觉醒。这两笔交易分别是一家东南亚企业对澳大利亚Goodman Fielder的拟议收购,以及一家中国公司对澳大利亚Aquila Resources的拟议收购。

今年迄今为止,亚洲并购交易已经创出历史最高纪录。Dealogic的数据显示,以本地区企业为目标的收购要约总额达到2624亿美元,超过了2007年的水平。该数据甚至还没有包括一些里程碑式对外并购交易,比如日本三得利控股(Suntory Holdings)斥资160亿美元,收购美国威士忌制造商、占边(Jim Beam)品牌所有者比姆公司(Beam Inc)。

但该数据的确包括了两笔严格来说并非并购交易的交易,如果剔除这两笔交易,那就意味着就目前而言,2014年的并购交易还没有创出历史最高纪录。这两笔交易,一笔是中信集团(Citic Group)以370亿美元将资产出售给旗下香港子公司中信泰富(Citic Pacific),另一笔是淡马锡(Temasek)以57亿美元收购李嘉诚(Li Ka-shing)旗下零售连锁集团屈臣氏(Watsons)四分之一的股权。换言之,眼下这股并购热潮仍根植于亚洲地区的传统,即彼此关联、受到紧密控制的公司之间无人竞争的部分股权交易和资产调配。

瑞士信贷(Credit Suisse)亚太并购联席主管乔?加拉格尔(Joe Gallagher)表示:“这些并不是真正全球意义上的并购交易,但亚洲就是这么做的。这种情况正在改善,但你必须透过这些数据,审视我们看到的询价水平——它与美国和欧洲不一样。”加拉格尔整体上对亚洲并购交易保持谨慎。

这两笔有关澳大利亚的交易都值得关注。马来西亚Kuoks和印尼Salims两大家族企业12亿美元的第一次报价遭到了食品集团Goodman Fielder的拒绝,提高报价后才被后者接受。无论如何,该收购要约意味着,东南亚地区恢复了对并购交易的兴趣。亚洲是一个让人很难看明白的地区,而家族企业则往往是这一地区最不透明的经营者,但关键是,家族企业通常手握现金,或者能找到愿意提供贷款者。

另一笔交易涉及中国宝钢(Baosteel),不久前它出价10亿美元,收购Aquila Resources的80%的股份(宝钢已持有Aquila 20%的股份)。Aquila的关键资产是,它在澳大利亚仍待开发的皮尔巴拉(Pilbara)地区拥有一个铁矿石项目的半数股权。中国对铁矿石的需求不是什么新鲜事。但中国自己在澳大利亚开采铁矿石的记录令人震惊——2006年由中信泰富(Citic Pacific)牵头启动的Sino Iron项目就是一例,该项目的开采成本是最初预算的5倍,现在才刚刚开始向外发运铁矿石。该项目遇到的麻烦,在很大程度上要归咎于中方不熟悉当地情况。宝钢的策略表明,它从中汲取了教训。通过与澳大利亚铁路货运公司Aurizon合作,宝钢在当地有了代言人,而且技术上也更令人放心。

宝钢的报价也显示出某些更令人意外的东西:中国企业集团恢复了对并购交易的兴趣,并有信心获得融资。安永(EY)不久前对那里的首席执行官展开的一项调查显示,59%的受访者认为信贷供应有所改善,而去年10月这样认为的受访者比例为49%。五分之二的受访者相信,他们将在今后12个月里提高杠杆比例,而此前这样认为的受访者比例是三分之一。

食品相关企业很可能成为中国人感兴趣的收购目标。中国国有粮食贸易商中粮集团(COFCO)今年已经收购了荷兰贸易商Nidera的多数股权,而且正在与来宝集团(Noble Group)共同建立一家合资企业。中粮的交易是之前全球农业企业合并潮的延续。花旗集团(Citigroup)亚太区并购部主管彭高年(Colin Banfield)预计,亚洲地区将继续响应全球的此类潮流。他说:“将会出现连锁效应。我们将会染上这种并购热,但特征未必相同。”

医药行业是一个可能出现并购的领域。辉瑞出价1000亿美元收购阿斯利康(AstraZeneca)之类的巨额交易之所以出现,驱动因素是医药企业正谋求提高成本收益比、实现增长。亚洲今年迄今最大的医药并购交易,是印度太阳药业(Sun Pharmaceuticals)以32亿美元收购兰伯西(Ranbaxy)。该交易将产生印度最大的制药公司,但它的并购基础不是为了越大越好,而是为了解决兰伯西的问题——后者已被禁止在美国销售其仿制药。

亚洲的动物精神通常既表现在新股上市上,也表现在并购交易中。不久前,旗下拥有中国和美国品牌的猪肉生产商万洲国际(WH Group)终止上市,表明市场情绪变得更加不确定。但这种情绪实际上可能刺激并购交易。

安永大中华区交易团队主管庞若柏(Bob Partridge)表示:“当我发现市场出现波动时,就会兴奋起来。让并购保持势头强劲的一个原因就是不确定性,因为这种不确定性意味着需要资本的公司会转向其他来源,比如其他公司。”

换言之,亚洲已经具备了产生并购交易热潮的条件。现在该地区需要产生一个足够大胆的交易,以证明所有的活跃都是合理的。

本文作者是英国《金融时报》亚洲金融记者

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