These days, the motives, targets, locations, and sectors for business acquisitions are becoming increasingly diverse.
More and more strategic assets are now available for acquisition, with the aim to strengthen global portfolios and competences, and they remain pivotal in today’s competitive business practices. In fact, what used to be considered “fair game” under the rules of modern capitalism has given way to the so-called “predatory behavior” of recent years, with ever increasing signs that various global powers are now looking to gain every advantage, whenever possible.
Ever since China unveiled its latest national plan, which was dubbed “Made in China 2025”, it has been working to aggressively transform itself from a manufacturing nation into a world-leading manufacturing powerhouse. At the same time, China has also been trying to raise its innovation capabilities, with plans to build a world-leading technological and industrial system. It is clear that the Chinese government is pushing hard to expand that nation’s production and innovation in various areas in order to drive job growth and achieve its long-term strategic goals.
Taiwan and China have long shared close ties. However, Taiwan’s advantages, which have been built on decades of technical expertise in various fields, especially in the information technology (IT) industry, are now being undermined due to the direct hiring of Taiwanese experts by China-based companies and even the outright purchases of Taiwanese companies and technology by companies outside of Taiwan.
In early June, the Taiwan Technology Law Institute (TTLI) and the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) co-organized a seminar in Taipei that featured Yung-Chin Hsu, the Vice Chairman of the Financial Supervisory Commission; Arati Shroff, the Deputy Economic Chief at AIT; the legislator Chia-Yu Kao; representatives from the Institute for Information Industry; the National Security Council; National Chiao Tung University; and experts from the business, civil, and government sectors for a discussion on the “Capital Market and National Security—Screening and Approval of Foreign Investment.”
The seminar mainly addressed the growing security concerns over the foreign exploitation of certain investment structures and the possibility of the Taiwanese government’s extra-regulatory scrutiny, specifically the Taiwanese version of FIRRMA—the Foreign Investment Risk Review Modernization Act, which was a US bill that was introduced in 2018 to block Chinese acquisitions.
Echoing the US-China trade experiences shared by AIT, the Taiwanese legislator Kao stated that in recent years in Taiwan, reports and warnings about possible bids by foreign suitors, especially Chinese entities, have put the spotlight on a variety of industries, ranging from semi-conductors, real estate, online shopping platforms, and electronics manufacturing, among others. It was also shared that even more high-level activity involving high-tech Taiwanese firms, including purchases by foreign buyers, will likely take place. Overall, the main concern expressed was that Taiwan’s position as a keystone in various supply chains will be rapidly eroded.
Of course, in an increasingly globalized economy, all direct foreign investment carries risks, so it is very important to evaluate the economic climate thoroughly. The presenters at the seminar also expressed the importance of strengthening on-the-ground information gathering and sharing; increasing information-sharing through intensified dialogue; and standardizing processes in the government sector. It was also advised that the Taiwanese government tread carefully and weigh both the advantages and disadvantages of any actions in order to determine the best road to take.