Yuan devaluation could hurt Chinese M&A, real estate activity abroad

The devaluation of the Chinese currency is having serious implications for Chinese companies doing merger and acquisitions, or buying real estate, overseas.

Last week, the yuan sank nearly 4% when the Chinese government decided to let the currency float.

Some companies may find the currency weakness a deal breaker when making a purchase overseas, because it will make the deals more expensive. But others, like Bohai Leasing, which made a $2.64 billion bid for Irish aircraft leasing firm Avolon Holdings just before the government devalued the yuan, probably won’t let a small price increase kill a deal.

Some companies have prepared for such a situation by creating funding reserves for foreign takeovers in US dollars and euros, bankers and industry players say. Meanwhile, others are entering currency hedge agreements.

“Currency exchange is only one of many factors to take into account when you negotiate a deal overseas: I don’t think Chinese firms will put their M&A plans on ice,” a director at a Chinese conglomerate that was recently involved in a number of large overseas takeovers told Reuters.

So far this year, Chinese companies have announced mergers worth $409 billion, on pace to smash last year’s record $451.3 billion, Thomson Reuters data show.

Meanwhile, in New York, which has benefited from a huge amount of Chinese people buying real estate, some are worried this will put a crimp in sales.

Looking for better returns than they can get at home, New York has been one of the most attractive destinations for Chinese citizens looking to invest abroad.

Between the first quarter of 2014 and the first quarter of 2015, Chinese investors accounted for 26.6% of the foreign spending on Manhattan commercial real estate, spending $3.9 billion, according to brokerage NGKF, reported The Real Deal, a New York-based real estate publication.

Already an expensive place to buy, New York could see a drop in Chinese spending on real estate. “There will be a slowdown,” Terence Tang of Colliers International’s Singapore office told The Real Deal. He said second-tier U.S. cities offering higher returns could in turn see more Chinese interest.



Categories: Asia Unhedged, China

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