CHINESE UPDATE — SASAC to Strengthen Supervision on Outbound Investment of Central Enterprises
SASAC issued new regulations recently, under which SASAC has adopted the concept of Negative List, and further strengthened its supervision of outbound investment by central enterprises.
The State-owned Asset Supervision & Administration Commission of the State Council (“SASAC”) published the Measures for the Supervision and Administration of Outbound Investment of Central Enterprises (“Measures”) on January 7, 2017, which replaced the Interim Measures for the Supervision and Administration of Outbound Investment of Central Enterprises (“Interim Measures”) issued by SASAC in 2012.
The biggest difference between the Measures and the Interim Measures is the introduction of Negative List of Outbound Investment Projects by Central Enterprises. There are two categories on the Negative List: Prohibited Category and Specially Supervised Category. Central enterprises are prohibited from investing in outbound investment projects in Prohibited Category, and should submit investment plan to SASAC to go through investor examination procedure before investing in projects in Specially Supervised Category on the Negative List. A central enterprise can make its own decision to invest in projects outside the Negative List according to its development strategies and plans. Central enterprises are also asked to make a more specific and stricter Outbound Investment Negative List for themselves based on the Outbound Investment Negative List issued by SASAC.
To invest in projects in Specially Supervised Category on the Negative List, a central enterprise shall submit investment plan to SASAC to go through investor examination procedure before submitting filings to the authorities in charge of outbound investment such as National Development and Reform Commission (“NDRC”) and Ministry of Commerce (“MOC”). In the previous Interim Measures, a central enterprise just needs to submit a filing to SASAC if it intends to invest in an overseas project falling into its principal business. Filing procedure is relatively simpler compared to the examination procedure, and normally SASAC will not conduct substantial examination and review in the filing procedure. After the introduction of the Negative List, central enterprises have to submit investment plan to SASAC for examination before submitting to NDRC and MOC for filing when investing in projects in Specially Supervised Category on the Negative List. SASAC will conduct a full and substantial examination of the projects from different aspects such as risk of the project, ownership structure, capital strength, profitability level, as well as competition and exit conditions. Besides, when necessary, SASAC may entrust third-party advisors to give advice on the project. Thus, to invest in projects in the Specially Supervised Category on the Negative List would be more difficult and take much longer time.
In addition, the Measures continues the principle in the Interim Measures that a central enterprise shall not make outbound investment in projects beyond its principal business, otherwise, approval from SASAC shall be required.
Important Concepts Clarified
Two concepts are made clear in Measures: Major Outbound Investment Project and Principal Business of central enterprise. Major Outbound Investment Project means the investment project of a central enterprise decided by its board of directors after consideration in accordance with its bylaw and investment management system. Principal Business is the main business of a central enterprise decided by its development strategies and plans and confirmed and published by SASAC. Non-Principal business is the other business. With a clear definition, a central enterprise is able to decide if a project is a Major Outbound Investment Project and/or falls into its principal business in order to go through different decision-making and examination/filing procedures.
In summary, the Measures have introduced the concept of Negative List, and strengthened the examination and supervision on outbound investment by central enterprises. We will keep a close watch on the Negative List to be published by SASAC and may further comment.