China: The FCPA Implications Of China’s Plan To Consolidate State-Owned Enterprises

Last Updated: 1 April 2015
Article by Ryan Bonistalli and Alex J. Brackett

China's recently announced plan to restructure and consolidate its state-owned enterprises (SOEs) focuses on bolstering the private sector of its economy and creating economies of scale to allow Chinese companies to better compete internationally. It also may implicate companies' efforts to comply with the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), in positive and negative ways. Although the details of the restructuring plan are still unknown, the prospect of any change to China's vast SOE network raises potentially significant considerations for legal and compliance officials dealing with the definition of "foreign official" under the FCPA. Companies operating in China need to watch this space, as significant changes to the SOE landscape could impact anti-bribery and anti-corruption policies and procedures related to business in China.

On March 5, 2015, at the opening of China's annual parliamentary meeting, Premier Li Keqiang announced plans to move forward with a "Made in China 2025" strategy to merge and reorganize SOEs in many key industries. Railways, nuclear power plants, auto and aircraft manufacturing, and shipbuilding are likely initial targets for consolidation. Rumors also are swirling about mergers of conglomerates in the oil and telecommunications industries. The restructuring plan, which is expected to be released by the end of the month and will be implemented by the Small Leading Group for State-Owned Enterprise Reform, is expected to create asset-holding companies (perhaps like Temasek in Singapore) to oversee China's shareholdings in the newly reorganized and consolidated companies and to ensure more economically competitive operations. China is also likely to open its doors to foreign investment as part of the plan, in industries in which foreign investors were never before allowed to participate.

Made in China 2025 was preceded by a pilot program last year, in which six large SOEs were tapped for reforms focusing on "mixed ownership" (i.e., partial privatization), transfers of management control away from political and policy-driven oversight and toward a capital management model focused purely on maximizing shareholder value, and board-centric (rather than centrally planned) appointment of senior management. This pilot program and the reforms announced this month are being viewed as a significant effort by China to make SOEs in key industries look more like − and be more internationally competitive with − Western multinationals through improved governance and increased efficiency.

The question this raises for companies seeking to ensure compliance with the FCPA and similar anti-corruption laws by their operations in China is whether consolidation of the 112 SOE portfolio currently managed by the Chinese government into 50 or fewer SOEs (as some believe is the goal) will improve transparency of government ownership or exacerbate current challenges in understanding just what businesses are owned or controlled, in whole or in part, by the government. Consolidation may bring comfort to compliance-responsible personnel, insofar as there will be fewer SOEs to track and a more recognizable management model with increased visibility into newly consolidated enterprises' ownership and level of government control. Such information could make due diligence efforts easier and more effective.

It is also possible that the restructuring plan will have a neutral or even negative effect, providing a less transparent view into a smaller number of now larger and more influential SOEs. Similarly, opening markets and enterprises to private investment, including foreign investment, could muddy the waters and make it more difficult to determine who or what owns or controls companies of varying sizes throughout various industries. That could be exacerbated as newly consolidated SOEs, or asset-holding companies managing portfolios of SOE investments, push investments into broad segments of the economy, creating an ever-expanding network of SOEs or SOE-affiliated entities through new public companies, joint ventures and even foreign subsidiaries. In that scenario, improved transparency at the consolidated SOE level may not carry forward to smaller entities, including otherwise private entities in which the Chinese government invests.

Regardless of the answer, there is no doubt that the Department of Justice (DOJ) and Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) will continue to scrutinize cases involving SOEs as "instrumentalities" of a foreign government (and therefore making any employee of an SOE a "foreign official" under the FCPA), especially in light of last year's Esquenazi decision. That is particularly true in China, which has been and remains a focal point for significant FCPA scrutiny − as evidenced by the roughly 40 companies that were actively investigating or under investigation for potential FCPA violations in China as of January 2015.

China's efforts to promote growth in its economy provide exciting opportunities for those wanting to invest in the country. But they are also an important reminder that China is, in many respects, a country apart in terms of the level and type of involvement its government has in individual companies and entire industries. Over the coming weeks, the Chinese government is expected to share additional details about Made in China 2025. Those announcements should help us understand how focused companies should be on the impact this latest round of SOE reform could have on China-related anti-corruption compliance efforts.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Authors
 
Some comments from our readers…
“The articles are extremely timely and highly applicable”
“I often find critical information not available elsewhere”
“As in-house counsel, Mondaq’s service is of great value”

Related Topics
 
Related Articles
 
Up-coming Events Search
Tools
Print
Font Size:
Translation
Channels
Mondaq on Twitter
 
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
 
Email Address
Company Name
Password
Confirm Password
Position
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Accounting
 Anti-trust
 Commercial
 Compliance
 Consumer
 Criminal
 Employment
 Energy
 Environment
 Family
 Finance
 Government
 Healthcare
 Immigration
 Insolvency
 Insurance
 International
 IP
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Litigation
 Media & IT
 Privacy
 Real Estate
 Strategy
 Tax
 Technology
 Transport
 Wealth Mgt
Regions
Africa
Asia
Asia Pacific
Australasia
Canada
Caribbean
Europe
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
U.K.
United States
Worldwide Updates
Registration (you must scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of www.mondaq.com

To Use Mondaq.com you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.

Disclaimer

The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.

General

Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions