Dud investments the norm for China’s state-owned companies, says former Rio Tinto exec
Australians should stop worrying about Chinese businesses buying up resource companies because most of the investments have been no good, says former Rio Tinto executive, Michael Komesaroff.
Despite some big deals by China state-owned companies, Komesaroff told the Australian newspaper that most of the deals have been duds, since China’s state investors have made the mistake of attempting to apply domestic methods in overseas settings and lost billions of dollars as a consequence.
“Either through hubris or lack of sophistication, the Chinese think the success they’ve had in China can be replicated overseas. They think it’s a universal model, and it’s not,” said Komesaroff.
According to Komersaroff, the staffing of key posts in state-owned companies by Communist Party members often leads to poor investment decisions, as political considerations are emphasized over commercial goals.
Komesaroff made these remarks following a re-flaring of the debate over state-led Chinese investment in Australia, with opposition leader Tony Abbot expressing wariness of such investment and a preference for Japan as a trading partner on the grounds of its political system.
Australia is currently the largest destination in the world for Chinese investment according to a study by KPMG and the University of Sydney. China has poured USD38.4 billion into Australia over the past six years, with 70% of this amount directed towards resource projects in Western Australia and Queensland.
The recent woes of China’s largest state-led investment in the Australian mining sector, the Sino Iron project, serve to strongly vindicate Komesaroff’s statements. Reports emerged last week that the project is two years behind schedule and that its total budget is set to balloon by over $2 billion.