Chinese companies changing direction and expanding rapidly overseas should “raise red flags” to global investors, one asset manager at a China-based investment firm told CNBC.
Speaking specifically about conglomerate Dalian Wanda Group, Lei Jing, a fixed income chief investment officer at Beijing-based Harvest Fund Management, said he wasn’t at all surprised about recent events.
A number of Chinese companies have come under pressure from authorities to curb capital outflows and slash their spending overseas amid concerns their borrowing could pose a risk. Dalian, the world’s biggest private property developer, has spent billions on entertainment and sports companies in the last few years.
“From the domestic investor viewpoint, we were always cautious on the companies that had made a very rapid expansion on an international basis,” Lei Jing said Thursday. “Also into territory which is not their main business concern.”
He compared these firms’ expansion internationally to the performance of traditional companies in the dot-com bubble. “I remember this one company during the tech bubbles, before they were in some traditional industrial space and then suddenly like dot-com, the stock suddenly jumped seven-fold,” he said.
“When you have a company moving away from its traditional business scope into other areas where you have a lot of good wills as a result of the mergers and acquisitions – that always raises red flags,” he said.
Dalian’s main investment has been on property but the Chinese firm has also invested in other areas outside of China. For instance, it bought Legendary Entertainment last year for $3.5 billion and it also owns some media companies in the U.S.
The group was due to buy the Nine Elms Square (a real estate development project) in London but it dropped the idea in August given China’s pressure on its overseas investments.
Dalian Wanda declined to comment when contacted by CNBC.