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Zhongwang drops Aleris bid after regulatory snag

By Zheng Xin and Wu Yong | China Daily | Updated: 2017-11-15 08:08

Zhongwang USA, an investment firm backed by Chinese tycoon Liu Zhongtian, said on Tuesday that it would continue to pursue overseas business opportunities even as it called off its planned acquisition of US aluminum maker Aleris Corp after failing to win US government approval.

"While this is not the outcome we intended, we remain committed to looking for investment opportunities in the US as well as other overseas markets," the company told China Daily.

Though the deal will not proceed, the company still believes that the cooperation could have been a win-win opportunity for American workers and Zhongwang USA, particularly in Kentucky, Ohio, Michigan, and Iowa, where Zhongwang's substantial additional capital investment would have increased productivity and American competitiveness while supporting in excess of 1,000 new jobs across four states, it said in a statement.

"Through the proposed acquisition, the company was committed to preserving American jobs and investing substantial funds into Aleris," the Chinese company said.

Analysts believe that had the termination not occurred it would have led to China's biggest purchase of an overseas metals processor.

"The Aleris deal would have helped Zhongwang to gain exposure to the US and European markets," said Zhu Yi, a Hong Kong-based analyst at Bloomberg Intelligence.

"We expect Zhongwang to look for other M&A opportunities, as the company is looking to upgrade its products and expand into other regions."

Zhongwang announced the acquisition of a majority stake in SilverYachts in October, an Australia-based all-aluminum super yacht builder, aiming to expand aluminum applications in the high-end marine sector.

It also announced in September the purchase of a controlling stake in a German aluminum extrusion firm to add to its portfolio of high-value-added automotive and aerospace products and gain exposure to Europe and the US market.

Aleris agreed last August to be bought by Zhongwang USA for $1.11 billion in cash while the Treasury Department's Committee on Foreign Investment in the US continued to raise national-security concerns with the merger.

The Aleris deal was among a number of Chinese takeovers of US businesses that have come under heightened scrutiny during the Trump administration.

"Trump's trade practices may reduce inbound shipments from China," said Zhu.

"Due to the aluminum price rebound this year, Chinese companies are also less inclined to export products."

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