Key insights from our April forum in Sydney

With almost 20 attendees at the forum on Monday 20th April, 2015 including a few new faces, there was much lively discussion, particularly in relation to the proposed changes for Significant Investor Visa.

Working in China – insights from on the ground

Katya Dobinson, having just returned from a three month internship with Austrade Guangzhou to join Think Global, shared with us her insights on working in China.

Fitting into day-to-day office took some time, as apart from two senior leaders, the staff in the Guangzhou office were all locals. One of the challenges, included their tendency to work independently, and despite the brief being to assist a number of teams, they “don’t want to bother you!” Interestingly, work and home life were very separate with minimal after work social activities.

From a business perspective, many of the local companies that came to Austrade for assistance were multifaceted, with very broad interests from property, to business to other opportunities, verse western businesses that tend to specialise. Quite a number came along to meetings unprepared, asking very general questions on how to do business in Australia, and were not very targeted in their areas of interest for tapping into the Australian market.

Guangzhou is part of Guangdong province and has seen tremendous growth over the last two decades to become a first tier city behind Shanghai and Beijing. Originally a manufacturing hub, Guangzhou has reinvented itself to be China’s engine of innovation and new technologies, moving away from products ‘Made in Guangzhou’ to ‘Created in Guangzhou’.

The sister state relationship between Guangdong and NSW has been going for 35 years, and Premier Mike Baird visited Guangzhou along with Shanghai and Beijing last September. More recently Austrade was involved in the signing of an agreement between Queensland University of Technology and the Guangdong Institute.

guangzhou_canton tower_lightsGuangzhou is a glittering cosmopolitan city, housing sky scrapers rivalling those of Shanghai and streets lined with luxury global brands and restaurants. You can’t beat the view from the 100 story International Finance Centre (IFC) tower for the view of Canton tower and the lights across the river.

For more on Guangzhou including the new Free Trade Zone in Guangdong Province check out Katya’s article on the Think Global blog here.

Significant Investor Visa

There was lively discussion on the proposed changes to the complying investment regime for Significant investor Visa applicants. Many who have been working with Chinese investors for a long time felt that the changes would see an end to the program with the requirement to invest in high risk assets.

The Australian government is keen to focus on innovation and existing structures with tax free benefits for individual investors such as the Early Stage Venture Capital Limited Partnerships (ESVCLP), an existing vehicle that is proposed be used for $1M of the SIV complying investments.

A further $1.5M is expected to be mandated to micro capital Australian share funds, with the balance to Australian corporate bond, share and property funds.

For more information on the ESVCLP & VCLP funds check out the article on our blog here.

Business interest in Australia

Many Chinese investors are interested in tapping into our agricultural, tourism and property sectors through partnering or purchasing businesses for mutual opportunities between Australia and China.

Mike Mosel, NAB China Agri shared with us some interesting stories including a keen Chinese investor who wanted to get into the beef industry and purchased a farm which didn’t have the desired cattle, nor the infrastructure they needed. Shows the importance of building relationships with experts that will ask relevant questions to understand client’s needs and introduce appropriate solutions.

Craig West, Succession Plus discussed the interest they are from Chinese investors. His firm regularly publishes China ready investment opportunities looking to sell or for expansion capital.

Check out some current offerings here.