Highlights from the last week of China business news.
What does BOCOG pay its PR guys?
Call the spin doctors. It’s been a rough week for BOCOG, starting with Steven Spielberg’s decision to quit his job as an unpaid artistic consultant for the Olympics. “My conscience will not allow me to continue with business as usual,” he said, damningly, to the Wall Street Journal. The Chinese foreign ministry and BOCOG predictably countered with a statement saying that his move was against the “Olympic spirit.” The ministry then announced that a special envoy would be sent to Darfur – good timing to quell the bad PR. Yesterday the SCMP (subscription required) reported that 15,000 Beijingers have been moved to make way for Olympics venues – that’s the official figure, anyway. Last year, an NGO in Geneva estimated that 1.5 million Beijing residents would be evicted to make way for the games.
All kinds of M&A activity this week. Singapore Airlines confirmed it wouldn’t bid again for a stake in China Eastern, following a foiled attempt in January. CITIC and Bear Stearns are renegotiating their share-swap deal, with both sides deciding to increase their stakes in one another. Under the new terms, CITIC would become Bear’s largest single shareholder, with 9.9% of the US investment bank, while Bear would hold 7.5% in CITIC. The increased stakes were needed because both banks’ stock prices had fallen since the original deal was struck. The share-swap is pending regulatory approval. They will hope that this doesn’t end up like another high-profile deal, in which Huawei and Bain have abandoned their attempt to buy 3Com for US$2.2 billion after failing to overcome opposition from a US government vetting body. The body, the Committee on Foreign Investment in the US, had national security concerns about the acquisition.
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