Brief Note on Coke-Huiyuan

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I finally found something interesting about this deal. (If you haven’t heard, Coke announced a takeover deal of a big Chinese juice company. Big money, big brand, big news the last two days.)

What’s interesting is the news coverage, which varies considerably depending upon, I believe, the experience of the reporter writing the article. The major guys out there, like the NYT, WSJ, FT, are reporting correctly that Coke "plans to acquire" Huiyuan. Much lazier journalists talk about the deal in the past tense, with some commentators out there congratulating Coke on its "recent acquisition."

The China/Asia commentariat go one step further to discuss the regulatory hurdles that the deal will have to overcome. The usual legal authorities are quoted regarding the Anti-monopoly Law, the M&A Rules, and the opportunity for the government here to use Huiyuan’s famous trademark, or alternative strategies, to block the deal.

Perish the thought that a big cross-border merger might be blocked by a government for political reasons!

I do look forward to all the rhetoric on this. What will be interesting is the reaction from the US government if the deal gets blocked. The US does not have a great deal of credibility on this issue after Dubai Ports and 3Com, but I’m sure that won’t stop the do-as-I-say-not-what-I-do crowd.

Of course, next year will mean a new administration in Washington, which entails a clean slate with respect to past stupid decisions. In other words, neither McCain nor Obama will feel the need to be apologetic about Bush Administration decisions and will therefore feel quite comfortable lashing out against any instance of Chinese protectionism.

Not sure when the deal will be reviewed. Too bad the presidential election in the US is over in 60 days — this would have been a great opportunity for the candidates to show how "tough" they can be against China. Would have been a lot of fun.

One response on “Brief Note on Coke-Huiyuan

  1. ChinaMatt

    I remember writing M&A columns and learning the difference being past tense and planning. Got in trouble once because one side said the deal was done, other side didn’t get back to me in time for publication. I made correction in the paper and the companies had a legal battle.