China firms face obstacles in overseas buys-HSBC exec

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BEIJING, Nov 18 (Reuters) Chinese companies face a string of obstacles when competing for overseas acquisitions, and Beijing should help smooth the process, HSBC's head of global banking in Asia-Pacific said on Sunday.

Speaking at a business conference in Beijing, Frank Slevin said a key constraint was the thicket of Chinese government approvals required when companies want to acquire a foreign firm.

''Chinese companies still need approval from multiple departments for any sizable acquisition,'' Slevin said. ''Sellers have to discount offers from Chinese companies due to the uncertainty over government approval.'' Other obstacles included restrictions on trade in the yuan currency and the government's policy of encouraging Chinese companies to list domestically instead of in foreign markets, he said. More foreign investment banks and private equity firms should be allowed to operate in China, he added.

Other analysts have noted that Chinese companies also face growing political resistance to acquisitions in the United States and Europe.

Lenovo's 2005 acquisition of IBM's personal computer business was possibly China's boldest move to date, but U.S. political opposition that year blocked state-backed oil firm CNOOC's <0883.HK> .5 billion bid for U.S.

peer Unocal.

REUTERS SLD KP1201

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