Potential Chinese interest in acquiring fashion retailer New Look symbolises the growing economic power of China.
Chinese private equity house CDH is understood to have been courted by Western counterpart Clayton Dubilier & Rice to mount a bid for the British retailer.
CDH’s interest is thought to be matched by that of Fosun, a Chinese conglomerate that last month took a stake in travel firm Thomas Cook.
“Will Shanghai or Hong Kong come to be preferred over London for IPOs?”
As Chinese shoppers become wealthier there are obvious opportunities for companies based there to buy up consumer businesses that could be expanded in the country – especially retailers such as New Look that already have plans to expand there.
Such deals, especially those involving private equity groups that will eventually seek an exit, raise the question about where retailers may list in future.
Will Shanghai or Hong Kong come to be preferred over London for IPOs of growing, international retailers?
The other point is that China has proved a difficult market to crack for Western retailers. Tesco and Kingfisher’s B&Q are two big names that have sold stakes in their Chinese businesses to local partners.
It will be fascinating to see how they progress under Chinese control – that may give an indication of how other retailers will fare in similar circumstances.