10 January, 2008 – Chinese Businesses Aim for Manchester
Manchester delegation visit to China puts new business deals on the table
Chinese businesses are showing an increasing interest in listing on AIM (Alternative Investment Market) and 2008 hopes to be a successful year for Manchester firms working with Chinese companies.
With Manchester’s financial and professional services sector currently involved in almost half of all AIM flotations, a delegation of business leaders from Greater Manchester has recently visited China to promote Manchester’s business credentialsin this field.
The delegation, which included representatives from The Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), Pannone LLP and accountancy firm Hurst & Co LLP, has already forged new business opportunities and contacts thanks to the successful visit to the Chinese cities of Shanghai and Wuhan.
Organised by MIDAS, Manchester’s Inward Investment Agency and supported by the Northwest Regional Development Agency (NWDA) the visit showcased the Manchester city region as an ideal base for Chinese businesses, seeking to enter European markets or to list on AIM.
The delegates met with key senior political and business figures in China, strengthening relationships and developing collaborative ways of working. As a result, the visit has already generated new leads from Chinese businesses as well as UK companies looking to invest in China.
As part of the trip, the delegation hosted a series of interactive seminars and workshops, designed to advise companies on the process of AIM listing and how Manchester’s firms can support them in doing so. The events were highly successful and attracted representatives from over 80 companies.
On a wider scale, the visit also served to further improve perceptions of the Manchester city region as both a place to live and do business.
Following the visit, newspaper Shanghai Daily commented that the impression of Manchester as just the home of Manchester United is steadily changing. “Manchester has been turned into a good city to live in with … music, art and shopping, relaxing public spaces and a good environment for investors, Manchester is attracting the attention of the Chinese community.”
For RBS, the visit has resulted in seven new businesses leads in China, and the bank is already working with a contact made on the visit. It was the second time that RBS took part in a delegation to Shanghai and Wuhan after securing several new customers as a direct result of the previous year’s trip.
Second time around the company believes the benefits will be even greater, as Peter Christelow, International Director of Commercial Banking at RBS explains: “As well as forging new leads and customers, we have deepened our understanding of Chinese business culture. Chinese business works in a very different way to business in the UK. Doing a deal is not something that happens overnight – relationships need to be forged over a long period of time. It’s a long term approach but we could really see how meeting people for the second year resulted in more constructive discussions and results.”
Representatives from Manchester-based lawyers Pannone, who also attended the previous year’s visit, found the return trip extremely beneficial. Simon Wallwork, Partner at Pannone said: “As Peter Christelow said building relationships in China is a long term process and we have been involved in developing links for many years. This visit was very productive and working alongside our Pannone Law Group firm, Boss & Young, we have made great progress with established relationships and have made a number of new ones. We have potentially two major transactions which have arisen from contacts made in Shanghai and have received a number of enquiries.”
For leading Greater Manchester accountants, Hurst, it was the first time they had been part of the China delegation. Helen Besant-Roberts, Partner at HURST said of the visit: “It proved to be an invaluable learning experience, giving us the opportunity to meet the right people and learn first hand how Chinese business works. We are now in close contact with five or six Chinese companies that are interested in setting up in the UK. Everyone we met with was very interested in Manchester and see it as a dynamic city.”
For many years, MIDAS has been working closely with a range of Chinese companies from various business sectors and has seen a growing interest in Manchester as a business location amongst Chinese companies.
Colin Sinclair, Chief Executive at MIDAS said: “The Manchester City Region and the wider North West has much to offer Chinese businesses. With its connectivity, access to skilled employees and long-standing links with China it offers a perfect location for many Chinese firms. We are seeing a growing number of Chinese businesses listing on AIM and benefiting from the support and expertise of Manchester’s financial and professional services community.”