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KPMG eyeing more M&A deals in China

2014-09-18 11:03 China Daily Web Editor: Qin Dexing

KPMG China will maintain double-digit growth this year despite the economic slowdown and will be on the lookout for suitable merger and acquisition opportunities, a top company official said on Wednesday.

"China will continue to be one of the fastest growth markets for KPMG in the next three to five years, though the country's economic growth is slowing," said John Veihmeyer, chairman of KPMG International, a global consultancy firm.

China's August economic data are pointing to a weakening picture: Industrial output grew at the slowest pace since 2008 amid the global financial crisis and fixed-assets investment, an important driver of economic activity, slowed to a 14-year low of 16.5 percent in the first eight months of the year.

Analysts from ANZ said that China's GDP growth may slip to 6.5 to 7 percent in the third quarter of this year if the September numbers remain weak.

"The trend-down, however, will not change the fundamental that more Chinese companies will go global. Therefore, the demand for tax and advisory services - two of our major business lines - are still there," said Veihmeyer.

Chinese companies' appetite for mergers and acquisitions declined in the first half of 2014, but the outlook remains positive thanks to reforms and changes in the macroeconomic environment, KPMG said in a recent report.

China has supported the outbound ambitions of its companies with a recent relaxation of the threshold at which companies must seek government approval for deals. As of May 8, this has been adjusted up from $300 million to $1 billion. This will allow Chinese companies to be more active in competitive bid situations.

Stephen Yiu, chairman of KPMG China, said the company plans to appoint 70 new partners and directors this year, increasing the total number of employees in the country to about 450. That marked the biggest increase in the past three years. Last year, KPMG promoted 41 partners and directors.

The country's economic transformation appears to be more service-oriented, Veihmeyer said, and will offer more chances for service and consulting companies like KPMG.

"The adjustment, therefore, is not a piece of bad news for us. Moreover, compared with other countries, China's growth is still very fast," said Veihmeyer.

Meanwhile, KPMG China is looking for merger and acquisition opportunities, especially in the technology and strategic consulting sectors.

"There are lots of local companies that are really strong in some niche markets, and we've been looking for suitable merger and acquisition opportunities," said Yiu.

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