A private equity guy I know looks for deals in China that are tied to hard assets likely to deliver steady long-term cash flow. He has become, as he puts it, somewhat middle-aged in his approach to investment, having tired of the two-year double-your-money plans put forward by (over) ambitious types in the tech sector.
This investor came across a cement company in Sichuan province that he thought had potential and so the months of due diligence and negotiation began. Come mid-May the deal was all but done. The investor flew back to Hong Kong on May 9 – and was promptly hit by news the following Monday that a devastating earthquake had struck barely 10 kilometers from where the cement company was based.
“So did you get it for a discount?” I asked, assuming the asking price for assets that have fallen victim to a natural disaster would fall.
“The basic terms of the deal had already been agreed – and a good thing too,” the investor replied. “The price of cement in Sichuan has gone up so much due to the anticipated reconstruction projects that the company owners would have probably asked for more money.”