Cedar who? Here’s a list of obscure Chinese companies that are taking over famous targets

PUBLISHED : Monday, 22 January, 2018, 6:40pm
UPDATED : Monday, 22 January, 2018, 6:40pm

When it comes to obscure Chinese companies pouncing on high-profile foreign targets, Noble Group’s suitor Cedar Holdings can point to a long line of illustrious predecessors.

Take the example of Anbang Insurance Group, which was a company best known for its fledgling auto insurance business when it came out of nowhere to acquire New York’s Waldorf Astoria hotel in 2014. Or the Chinese peroxide producer that bought the developer of the Talking Tom app which features a talking digital cat.

Here are some past examples of firms that made a splash with large overseas deals:

Buyer Target Status
Anbang Insurance Group New York’s Waldorf Astoria hotel Completed
Chongqing Casin Enterprise Group and other buyers Chicago Stock Exchange Pending
China Energy Reserve & Chemicals Group The Center in Hong Kong Agreement signed November 2017
Anhui Xinke New Materials Voltage Pictures, producer of Oscar-winning film ‘The Hurt Locker’ Cancelled December 2016
Zhejiang Jinke Entertainment Culture Outfit7, maker of Talking Tom Pending
New China Capital Legend fund Louis Dreyfus’s global metals business Expected to close in first half of 2018

Sources: Company filings, Bloomberg

Billionaire Li Ka-shing in November agreed to sell control of a Hong Kong tower known as The Center for US$5.2 billion to a group led by state-owned China Energy Reserve & Chemicals Group -- not exactly a well-known acquirer of trophy real estate assets. In 2016, a Chinese copper-wire manufacturer said it would take over a Hollywood movie studio. And then there were the bidders for the Chicago Stock Exchange, including a real estate developer in western China called Chongqing Casin Enterprise Group.

Cedar Holdings has expressed interest in buying control of commodities trader Noble Group, according to people with knowledge of the matter. Cedar Holdings, which traces its roots to a real estate company started in 1997, says on its website that its businesses include chemicals, tourism, property and finance. The company also lists a commodities supply-chain management business as one of its units.

The interest from Cedar Holdings signals that there’s no dearth of appetite from Chinese buyers even as regulators have cracked down on overseas deal making by domestic firms such as Anbang and HNA Group.

Cross-border acquisitions by Chinese companies have dropped to US$173 billion in the past 12 months, down 25 per cent from the year-earlier period, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.