Friday, April 02, 2010

Witches Brew of Players in Nan Shan Deal

99% of the time, the photos I put next to posts have nothing to do with the post itself, I just randomly select them. But I had been talking with a pal about the financial mess, and he flipped me this highly appropriate pic. So enjoy...

Despite the huha over the China email hacking I commented on below, the most important news was the financial machinations of the Chinese groups involved with the Nanshan sale. The Taipei Times ran a front page piece on the 31st discussing the Nanshan sale. American International Group (AIG), an insurance company with deep historical links to Shanghai and pre-war China, sold Nan Shan to Primus Financial on Oct. 12 for US$2.15 billion. Primus Financial then filed an application with the Ministry of Economic Affairs' Investment Commission in November. On Feb. 12, Primus and China Strategic sent a revised application to provide more information on investors and funding sources (borrowed much of this description from Taipei Times report). Nanshan, BTW, insures more than 4 million Taiwanese, and is the largest insurance firm on the island. As the TT noted in an editorial today, this bit of financial arcana is like a window into Taiwan's future. The TT reported:
An electronic copy of a report obtained by the Taipei Times on the yet-to-be-approved sale of Nan Shan Life Insurance Co claims that the backers of the Hong Kong-based consortium led by Primus Financial Holding Ltd and China Strategic Holding may include individuals found guilty of financial irregularities as well as close relatives of senior members of the Chinese Communist Party.

The English translation of the report, which is dated March 10 and comes from the office of Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Pan Meng-an (潘孟安), also mentions risks of stock speculation and raises questions about the qualifications of major shareholders and the use of “shell” companies.
The report says, among other things:
  • Primus Pacific Partner (Hong Kong) Co Ltd (Primus Pacific) — which provided funding for Primus Financial — receives “some funding” from the state-owned Beijing Enterprises Holding Ltd
  • China Strategic is a pure holding company in poor financial shape
  • Among the individuals involved in China Strategic, which is backed by Chinese money, is a well-known Shandong-born Chinese speculator who is reportedly at large over his involvement in two cases of stock speculation and insider trading
  • The Shanghai-born Huan is the CEO of Primus Pacific and chairman of Primus Financial, as well as the director of Beijing Development (Hong Kong) Ltd, which is invested by Beijing Enterprises. Following revelations of Chinese investment in the Nan Shan bid, Huan cut all ties to the case, the report says.
  • The Primus group, the report says, “is backed by ... mainland China's princeling party,” alleging that the son of former vice president Zeng Qinghong (曾慶紅), Zeng Wei (曾偉), and his brother, Zeng Qinghuai (曾慶淮), were both members of the group. Primus Pacific president and general manager Li Wenlei (李聞雷) is the son of former Chinese vice premier Li Lanqing (李嵐清), the report says.
  • “China Strategic, Primus Financial or its investor, Primus Pacific, all lack ... experience in managing financial holdings, let alone in [the] life insurance industry. In addition, the newly established Primus Nan Shan Holding Company was registered ... less than a year [earlier] for this case.
It's all there -- on one side, an alleged fugitive on the run from the law for investment violations is one of individuals involved in the alleged shell company. Another group allegedly consists of Chinese "princelings", the children of powerful PRC elites. Still another, allegedly the direct hand of the Chinese state investment system. This is no ordinary case, folks, but the first limning of the shape of things to come. Powerful interests, backed by the global financial system and the Lords of Chaos, are supporting this financial "integration" between Taiwan and China -- where "integration" is a mere euphemism for something like "hollowed out like a gourd." But hey, the stock market might go up....
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ume said...
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