Posted by: Dexter Roberts on July 3, 2009
More news out showing China is serious about picking up overseas assets to meet its surging energy and resource needs. This time, a report published yesterday in the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post, says that China National Petroleum Corp, China’s largest oil and gas company, wants to resurrect its bid to take a $17 billion stake in Argentina’s YPF, majority-owned by Spain’s Repsol.
It’s no surprise that China is moving increasingly aggressively to pick up overseas resources, including in oil and gas of course. It’s still fast-growing economy already relies on energy imports for more than one-half its overall demand, and that figure is certain to get even larger. And China is interested in spending its $2 trillion in foreign exchange reserves on something other than just U.S. Treasuries. Hard assets, particularly much-needed resources, are one very good alternative and very much in favor from the government’s perspective too. That has driven a flurry of oil and gas deals including one by China’s second largest petro company Sinopec, which plans to spend $7.2 billion to purchase Addax Petroleum, giving it access to assets in Nigeria and the Kurdish region of Iraq. CNCP too has recently made other big investments overseas including in Kazakhstan and in Singapore, and on June 30 won a joint bid with BP to acquire Iraqi oil assets. The company reportedly is also looking at possible deals in Mongolia.
A successful bid in Argentina is certainly not guaranteed, however—a point the SCMP article also highlighted. Indeed, CNPC has made two previous bids for the company, both of which failed. And protectionism directed at a cash-rich China seems to be growing, including in places like Argentina—but also far afield in Australia. Case in point: China Aluminum Corp’s recent $19.5 billion failed bid to take a stake of Australia’s Rio Tinto. And of course there is the example of CNOOC’s stymied attempt to take over Unocal in the US several years ago, a fiasco which still raises ire in Beijing.