Monday, October 23, 2023

China Threat: PEU Enabled

60 Minutes interviewed intelligence chiefs from the U.S., the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.  FBI Chief Chris Wray spoke about the Chinese "stealing more of personal and corporate data than every other nation combined."

Flashback to 2005:

....TPG, Newbridge Asia (an Asian affiliate of TPG) and General Atlantic teamed up to buy into Lenovo in 2005 to help strengthen the Chinese firm’s financial position at the time of its takeover of IBM's PC business.

Note: the former CEO of General Atlantic currently heads the World Bank.

The three private equity underwriters (PEU) cashed in their stakes in 2010.  I noted national security concerns that same year.

Turn to 2014:

 Lenovo bought IBM’s server business in 2014.

Google said it plans to sell the Motorola handset business to Chinese computer maker Lenovo Group Ltd.

The acquisitions were ultimately cleared by CFIUS.

WaPo reported on a schism inside the U.S. government on whether Lenovo products were safe to use.  The State Department and Air Force indicated they were not safe due to espionage concerns. The article said:

Lenovo tapped celebrities such as Kobe Bryant and Ashton Kutcher as spokesmen to broaden its appeal.

Recall that tens of thousands of U.S. jobs were sent to China in the 2000's and 2010's.  Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin helped The Carlyle Group send auto parts manufacturing jobs to China.  

Carlyle and the Chinese government reached an accord.  A former major business reporter wrote in 2011:

I can't tell if the PE guys are being insincere when they talk about China or they are actually stupid. There is no way that the Chinese govt would let American firms come in and strip cash out of Chinese companies the way they've been allowed to in the US! I imagine the Chinese welcome the PE guys because they see it as another way (through PE orchestrated mergers) to get hold of more American technology and companies and jobs.

What is going on with the theme of the article that these guys never agree with each other? As if there are these deep philosophical differences in how they operate?!? Makes one just despair.

People spoke up along the way, Mr. Wray.  And we continue speaking.  Please aim the Five Eyes at the PEU boys.  Scrutiny is needed.

Update 10-24-23:  A decade from now the Five Eyes will be concerned about this:

"Powerful generative AI spyware in any location where data is created...." 

Update 11-16-23:  "PE firms trapped in China after $1.5 trillion spending spree" (Bloomberg

Private equity firms are struggling to sell China affiliates.  Reports say secondary buyers are demanding discounts of 30 to 60%.  Discounts in the U.S. and Europe run 10 to 15%.