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All in the Family

A curated selection of this week's top stories in business, finance and politics, from Germany
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Friday, 20.01.2017
Dear blue1000,
This week, German industry learned a perhaps not-so-subtle lesson in how to deal with the incoming administration of Donald Trump. The lesson was delivered by Chinese industry, which has extensive experience at dealing with a government where families and family loyalties can help get deals done.

While executives at Bavarian automaker BMW were wondering how to respond to Mr. Trump’s blunt threat to impose a 35-percent tariff on their cars imported from Mexico, two Chinese conglomerates racked up victories in the U.S. market by dealing with people in Mr. Trump’s circle.

The acquisitions of U.S. companies by Chinese conglomerates HNA and Anbang Insurance is all the more ironic given Mr. Trump’s heat-seeking Tweets directed against the Chinese government, which he has repeatedly accused of unfair trade practices and currency manipulation.

HNA and a partner said it would acquire Skybridge, a hedge fund of funds that is owned by Anthony Scaramucci, who is on Mr. Trump’s transition team and could have a role in the new administration. Hedge funds of funds are a dying breed, and HNA, an acquisitive Chinese shipping and aviation conglomerate, reportedly paid less than $200 million for its majority stake, according to Reuters.

Anbang said it was forming a joint venture with Mr. Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, to redevelop 666 Fifth Avenue, a stranded New York City investment property owned by the young real estate scion and his family.

Anbang has close ties to the Chinese government and was unable to get U.S. government clearance last year to acquire The Hotel del Coronado near a U.S. naval base in San Diego as part of a $6.5 billion package to buy 16 hotels from Blackstone, the private equity giant.

Even outgoing President Obama reportedly stopped staying at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City after it was acquired by Anbang.

While the Chinese government takes rhetorical flak from Mr. Trump, the country’s business community, used to dealing with powerful, connected families, is now applying its lessons in the U.S. market. That could be instructive for German companies looking for their own way forward.

Kevin O‘Brien
Handelsblatt Global Edition
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