Asia Business Podcast

Asian Markets and Strategic Transitioning Away from China - with Pilar Dieter

Episode Summary

Join us as we talk with Pilar Dieter, CEO of YCP Solidiance, an Asia-focused strategic advisory firm. We cover topics such as the strategic advisory firm's work across Asia, the trends in foreign direct investment (FDI) in China, the shift towards de-risking from China, and the increasing interest of Chinese companies in outbound investment.

Episode Notes

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Full show Transcript below Summary and Timestamps


In this episode of the Asia Business Podcast, host Art Dicker interviews Pilar Dieter, CEO of YCP Solidiance, an Asia-focused strategic advisory firm. They discuss the challenges and opportunities in the Asian market, focusing on China’s decreasing foreign direct investment (FDI) and the strategies for diversifying supply chains due to geopolitical tensions and supply chain resiliency. Pilar provides insights into the factors leading to net capital outflows from China, the impact of global perceptions on investment, and the shift toward domestic consumption driving growth in China. The conversation also covers the trend of businesses de-risking by moving operations from China to Southeast Asia, India, or nearshoring to places like Mexico, and how YCP Solidiance facilitates this transition. They delve into industry-specific shifts, the increasing interest of Chinese companies in outbound investment, and the importance of strategic and post-merger integration services in navigating the complexities of the Asian market. The episode wraps up with how companies can reach Pilar and YCP Solidiance for strategic advice and support.



00:00 Welcome to the Asia Business Podcast with Pilar Dieter

00:57 Deep Dive into China's Business Landscape

01:49 Navigating Supply Chain Resilience and Diversification

03:21 The Future of Foreign Direct Investment in China

06:05 De-risking Strategies for Global Supply Chains

11:20 Exploring New Markets: The Shift in Asian Investment Patterns

23:09 The Role of Strategic Advisory in Global Business Expansion

28:07 M&A Trends in Asia: Insights and Opportunities

36:03 Closing Thoughts and Contact Information



Art: [00:00:00] Welcome everybody to another episode of the Asia business podcast. I'm your host, Art Dicker. And today we have the true pleasure of welcoming Pilar Dieter. She is the chief executive officer at YCP Salidians. YCP Salidians is an [00:00:15] Asia focused strategic advisory firm with 17 offices worldwide, predominantly in Asia.

Art: Welcome, Pilar. 

Pilar: Thank you, Art. It's a true pleasure to be here. Thanks for having me. 

Art: Yeah, we've talked about [00:00:30] doing this for a while now. And we both had recent visits to China. And so I think we've got plenty to talk about. We're gonna I think China is going to be a big part of what we talk about today.

Art: But as we said at the top, your firm is a big presence all throughout Asia. And I think it's [00:00:45]going to be interesting to do a bit of comparison between different parts of that region and see what's going on. So I'm happy to get into it today and really looking forward to it. 

Pilar: Absolutely. I'm looking forward to the exchange as well.

Art: Great. Let's off maybe with With China. And I [00:01:00] know you guys work a lot with the sort of the top fortune 500 companies there. But also you work with them throughout Asia and beyond. And we've seen a lot of statistics come out lately where looking at the net capital outflows from China after [00:01:15] years and years of inbound investment increasing year after year.

Art: And do you see that trend reversing anytime soon? And if so, the trend of the negative outflows, negative inflows, I should say. Do you see that trend reversing [00:01:30] anytime soon? And if so, what sectors might it reverse in? 

Pilar: I think the way to determine whether or not this is something that would reverse is it's first important to understand why that F.

Pilar: D. I. into China has decreased over the last few years. So there's a couple, [00:01:45] I would point to three things. Two are obvious, one might be a little less obvious. So I would point to number one, really the supply chain resiliency move. This concept of. Diversifying supply chains. This isn't a sudden thing.

Pilar: We can track [00:02:00] this back to really 2016 2015 era, even before trade tariffs were starting to come into play. So a lot of conversation around why diversification matters in supply chains. That's 1 of the reasons that you're starting to see a little bit of that [00:02:15] decline in F. D. I. The other one, another obvious element is the geopolitical tension.

Pilar: Lots of media attention that's driving and easily influencing the way that U. S. corporations or multinational corporations are really viewing China with a bit [00:02:30] more of a fine tooth comb before making really readily decisions to make big investment into China because of the beauty of the growing market and the size of the market.

Pilar: But I'd say the third and maybe less obvious. Point that would be directed to why [00:02:45] FDI in China is decreasing is when you actually talk to some of the bank leadership in China, they will actually point to a decrease due to companies moving liquid capital out of China as a result of interest rates coming down [00:03:00] markedly And that, I think, when we looked at what was happening during COVID times, China interest rates were obviously quite high compared to other countries, making it a little bit more of an attractive play.

Pilar: So now, with the decrease continuing that seems to be something that [00:03:15] others, especially domestically or regionally, that I was talking to when I was in Shanghai a couple days ago or weeks ago were also pointing to. But to your point about, Given these realities of why FDI has declined, do I see this trend reversing?

Pilar: My short answer is [00:03:30] no, not in the short term and for the USA, most decidedly, not in this election year. The two main reasons I would point to for this, though, would really be, while China still would like to maintain strong performance on [00:03:45] investment, when GDP numbers and their aggressive growth target of 5 percent that's been stated by Xi Jinping.

Pilar: What we end up seeing is the investment lever of GDP is something that has been a big driver for them achieving their growth rates. But at this point in [00:04:00] time, the investment lever is taking a back seat. To some of the consumption activities that they're trying to really influence and push.

Pilar: So I would say, looking internally in China, they're really going to be focused more on domestic consumption to be able to drive that [00:04:15] growth. And then the second reason why I would say that the trend might not be reversing, at least within this next year, Is US companies are just continuing to face more scrutiny within their own organizations.

Pilar: Whenever I see clients trying US [00:04:30] clients in particular, trying to make decisions on deeper investment in China, whether that's through acquisition or through basic investment into greenfield or brownfield plants, or even finding new supply base that might actually be Chinese based. [00:04:45] It's coming with a very high higher bar in terms of scrutinizing whether or not it's the right partner.

Pilar: So bottom line not reversing I would say within the foreseeable future being at least 12 to 18 months out 

Art: Yeah, and I'm [00:05:00] sure you got this question a lot when you visited China as well, both even from friends and business people in China, asking you maybe when, when do you think things will get better as far as the investment there and stuff.

Art: I certainly got that. I just got back and got that a lot. [00:05:15] And I agree. It's part of it is it's. It's perception and reality, right? The reality is the Chinese economy is not doing well. And so that probably, as you said, might be the biggest factor, even beyond anything we read about in the news [00:05:30] and the headlines and the politics of of of, not great relations between the U S and China right now.

Art: And at the same time I hear what you're saying too, with some of my own clients getting internal pushback for any, anything that, you know, because, and again, [00:05:45] that might be more of just as much perception of what they see in the headlines of the wall street journal or whatnot, and say why are we investing there more?

Art: I thought it was getting harder, whether or not that's true or not. That's at least we can say that perception is there, and that's not going to help make [00:06:00] that fight any to get increased investment any easier internally, like you said. You see then, I guess it goes without saying that companies are de risking from China and moving either to Southeast Asia or India, if [00:06:15] it's manufacturing or even coming back closer to home let's say, Mexico.

Art: Do you, are you actually with, internally at your firm trying to position yourself? As a bridge for that that de risking, where clients say we've [00:06:30] really valued all the advice you've given us in China we see you have offices all throughout Asia.

Art: How have you guys been helping clients through that process a lot recently? 

Pilar: It would be relatively [00:06:45] relatively easy to say absolutely a hundred percent. I think that it wants, we want to caveat this a bit because I think the question oftentimes when our clients come to us and say, hey, here's our direction.

Pilar: We've decided we need to de risk or sometimes the [00:07:00] terminology becomes anti fragility and that concept really means putting us putting our company or the client in a state where we are not subjected to the exogenous effects of any global economic player. [00:07:15] That could impact our business so detrimentally.

Pilar: So put another way. Make us bulletproof, help us figure out what can we do, whether it's, taking these out of China and putting them into Southeast Asia, bringing things [00:07:30] nearshore, reshore, friendshore, back over to Mexico. Those are the common go tos. But what we have found is it helps to actually bring the client before they come to us with, here's our decision.

Pilar: We want to take factories or [00:07:45] take suppliers out of China and move them to somewhere else in the world. We say let's take a step back and try to understand what is your objective here? And a lot of times when you really peel those layers back, what you're starting to hear the client say is we don't want to have another [00:08:00] COVID impact our complete business.

Pilar: We also don't want another, whether it's a pandemic or it's a landshoreman strike in Los Angeles, or it's some kind of labor union strike in Europe, or it's pirates [00:08:15] in the Panama Canal, all of these global realities is what's causing us to reconsider. Are we securely operating and supply chain is the natural 1st place to go.

Pilar: When you hear companies jump immediately to, we need to. [00:08:30] de risk and reshore. I think those can actually they're not mutually exclusive, so when you can separate them, you can actually unpeel a lot more on this de risking piece as opposed to the reshoring piece. But to come back to the [00:08:45] specifics of your question, are we seeing clients wanting this?

Pilar: Yeah, definitely. We have one client, for example, in Furniture manufacturing, right? So a sector that is very well entrenched in China, they had been sourcing probably 70 percent of [00:09:00] their products out of China maybe doing some sub assembly in places like Mexico, and this was an American company and what they decided, and this was probably about a year or two after COVID lockdown ended and they said, [00:09:15] we really want to figure out a way to.

Pilar: Bring this back home. So we want to double down on our investment in Mexico. Now, as you rightedly pointed out at the onset, we're more of an Asia based firm, but because we recognize the need for this [00:09:30] kind of pivot, we made a small investment in Guadalajara, Mexico, where we now have a small team that supported specifically these kinds of requests.

Pilar: And this example on the furniture company is not, is only one, but I think it highlights the point where we took this [00:09:45] client and said Okay. What are the components or products that are coming out of China for you? We did the cost arbitrage of which products were the most expensive to relocate versus those that might be easier to relocate and wouldn't disrupt their supply chain too dramatically, but bring them additional cost [00:10:00] savings.

Pilar: And in doing that, we ended up going through a, an MNA process in Mexico to help them find not just suppliers, but actually some manufacturing footprints that they could. Absorb and take over and move on. So in that example, I would argue that it [00:10:15] wasn't so politically driven. There wasn't the motivation was more on cost management.

Pilar: China is no longer the cheapest place to source furniture. Not to say that Mexico is significantly cheaper, but when you put the landed cost calculations into play, [00:10:30] you do start to see. Some benefits there. 

Art: Yeah. And shipping, like you said, the risk of factory shutdowns, that's not necessarily a political risk.

Art: China, I guess everything can be somewhat political but that's the, The supply chain disruptions, [00:10:45] that, that's something that is maybe wasn't as much of an issue, but you're seeing your clients and helping your clients price that additional risk into their calculations and then it's at a place like Mexico makes more sense.

Art: I wonder if that's going to be, or, if you're seeing that as a trend for not just. [00:11:00] traditional multinational companies, American or European based, but even Asian companies and even Chinese companies realizing, Hey maybe this whole, the potential for supply chain disruption, obviously it affects our business as a Chinese manufacturer just as [00:11:15] much.

Art: Maybe we need to diversify our own supply chain out into other parts of the world. And are you seeing that directly or indirectly? And how would you describe that phenomenon?

Pilar: Yeah, I would. And I think it's very industry specific. So [00:11:30] what you find is when these companies that are the larger players decide to make any kind of further investment outside of China, their ecosystem that they have spent decades truly building up in China, which is what makes China such a [00:11:45] beautiful manufacturing prowess because they did masterfully put together complete communities really in certain industries that would be pockets for Supporting those large manufacturers take.

Pilar: Automotive is the easy go to [00:12:00] example. So when you have the large, the starting point of those big companies saying, okay we've been manufacturing in Chongqing for decades, and all of our component suppliers are conveniently just [00:12:15] kilometers away from us. We now are going to make our next investment.

Pilar: We're not shutting anything down. We're not moving anything away, but we're making our next investment in Fill in the blank, Vietnam, India, Indonesia, wherever. And as a result of that, we are asking you, Mr. [00:12:30] Supplier, to make a move as well. Are we seeing this mass exodus of complete comprehensive supply chains not evacuating China and moving elsewhere, but making their further investment overseas?

Pilar: Yes, I would say that from our firm's standpoint, [00:12:45] we're seeing an uptick in the inquiry. About how to make that possible. We also have seen an increase in our clientele mix. Normally our clients were predominantly Western clientele with certain. A lot of [00:13:00] Japanese and a lot of Indian domestics also as our key clientele, but not so many Chinese.

Pilar: Native domestic clients up 2 years. That and their inquiries are all about export opportunities. Where can I [00:13:15] be outside of China that can also be a market opportunity for me to serve these customers that have always been part of my ecosystem and are now possibly opening up a whole new market for me to be a part of?

Pilar: So I would say that we [00:13:30] are seeing that as far as the companies that we're finding, looking for overseas, going outside of China Japan is another one. So we at YCP, our founder is Japanese. We were born [00:13:45] in Japan. We are publicly listed and traded on the Japanese stock exchange. And our largest revenue contributor in terms of our firm is our Japanese office.

Pilar: Given that I'm now coming at you with a perspective of the [00:14:00] Japanese mindset and what their businesses are starting to do and looking at the Asia, Asia picture. And when they look at that Asia map, a lot of our Japanese clients are starting to have an elevated focus in [00:14:15] expanding artifi, not China.

Pilar: There's a Japanese India corridor that's starting to open up. You can see with Kishida just here last week all of the increased investment ambition that they have, that Japanese have for for the U. S., which [00:14:30] is not to be understated. And really what you're finding there are some very salient examples that we work in more in the retail and consumer goods categories, as well as food and beverage, that these Japanese companies are seeking [00:14:45] outbound opportunities.

Pilar: Amen. And I'd love to hear your thoughts on this to art, but I think one of the One of the examples we have with some Chinese companies, and I'm going to give you to illustrate how Chinese [00:15:00] companies without that whole ecosystem example, I laid out in the beginning on the automotive case, but how some Chinese companies are starting to view outbound investment.

Pilar: And. The first thing I would highlight is one of our clients is in the artificial intelligence and [00:15:15] technology sector, and clearly, AI plays a very sensitive role, especially when you're talking about Chinese AI looking to invest outside of China. But in this case they, we are working with this company to find joint venture partners [00:15:30] because their ambition to get out of China is exceptionally high because they are worried that the market cap in China is already too low for them as well as already quite inundated with domestic players that have more [00:15:45] government influence. The 2nd indicator I would share with you. The 2nd client I would share with you is no surprise in the energy sector, a solar panel manufacturer in China. Who is eagerly exploring where they can be moving [00:16:00] to in what markets are going to be welcoming and accepting of their equipment and products.

Pilar: In the US and Europe. So couple that with a lot of the, you have Janet Yellen just recently returning from her visit and making a very pointed [00:16:15] statement about no anti dumping. We don't need your overcapacity problems to influence us. And solar panels is right up there on the list. So this is an example to where you can see the overcapacity element, [00:16:30] which is a structural challenge.

Pilar: China has is another factor. That's going to play into more Asian companies seeking those outbound investment opportunities. I would say.

Art: Yeah, that mirrors like you alluded to that that mirrors what I'm seeing too. What you [00:16:45]described is in your role as a strategic consultant is very similar to my role as a legal consultant.

Art: It's that, that shift from have starting to see Chinese companies have more and more interest to go outbound and needing professional advice. [00:17:00] And, willing to pay for that professional advice, which is, was not as in the old days was a little bit harder. So that's an an interesting development.

Art: And I also think that the similarly, like clients are coming to the U S or out of China, not [00:17:15]so much because because as you said, China is so competitive, right? And so it's actually. Maybe the second example you use is better with the solar panels or where there's a more less competition and more.

Art: There's at least some margin to have in the US being a high [00:17:30] margin place for a lot of different products still compared to China. That seems to be the biggest push that I've seen for companies as well. 

Art: And it's interesting you mentioned the AI case. I totally get that. That's. Yeah, that for a lot of reasons, I could see that there be there would [00:17:45] be limitations on what they can potentially, their ceiling in China, what they can do there.

Art: And so that makes if they have the fundamental technology that may totally make sense that they would be looking to move out or sooner rather than later. Yeah. And it also begs the question where, you know, The whole [00:18:00] domicile of these companies and, like moving around, is it Singaporean companies and Chinese company?

Art: You can, of course you can say the same thing about U. S. companies, right? That so many multinational quote U. S. companies get less than half their revenue from the U. S. And so [00:18:15]what does that make them, right? So many French. Fashion companies make much more money in China than they make in Europe.

Art: So are they a Chinese fashion brand or are they, L'Oreal or something like that? Certainly if you ask them, they would never say so, but knowing some people that work at L'Oreal [00:18:30] but yeah I, it's, And I guess that gets to my, my, my next question, of the the solar panel example and the potential for dumping anti dumping countervailing duties on on exports to the U S and [00:18:45] E and EU potentially, how much, cause that's so much of a must be so much of what goes into your analysis of, for your, and advice for your clients.

Art: Do you ever, Market that as [00:19:00] it's not necessarily like a standalone like service Hey, we also offer this political risk advisory bucket of us as a service, or it's just always part of what you do. You don't have to break it out as a separate kind of business line or separate cut because there are firms that's [00:19:15] clearly this do that, right?

Art: So I don't know if you're thinking of integrating that kind of a service into what you already do. 

Pilar: Yeah, I wouldn't say we do it to the degree of the risk factors that a company like control risks, for example, might do, or even a law firm [00:19:30] like yours. But when you talk about a go to market strategy, you will oftentimes find that the pestle analysis and what's going on with, political instability and perceptions of a Chinese entity coming into a certain [00:19:45] market. What? How will that withstand the test of time and built on that macroeconomic perspective on the industry and that market we then go ahead and build out some of the detailed strategic plan of how do you bring your product to [00:20:00] this market?

Pilar: Who are the distributors? What's the channel? Who are the customers? The competition? Typical strategy engagement. What I will share, and I think that this is actually quite fascinating, is I recently had a Chinese client who was exploring the [00:20:15] U. S. market, and they asked us, as part of our go to market roadmapping, and again, like I shared in the beginning, We aren't extensive in the U.

Pilar: S. But when we have Chinese clients who are working with our China team, and they have a U. S. element, they bring in our small team in the U. S. [00:20:30] to help them with this. And this client on a call, Chinese executive said, now, tell me when we're going through the site selection phase of this project.

Pilar: We really need to understand what regions in the U. S. are [00:20:45] amenable to working with Chinese people. very much. And where are the risks the highest because of gun policy, these were, it didn't necessarily take me back, but it just it was not a typical question [00:21:00] when doing these kinds of risk analyses and.

Pilar: Ability to work in a certain country, those are things that you just don't think of people being so concerned with, but it was a legitimate fear and a legitimate. Component that went into the decision [00:21:15] making process for this company of where do we even want to go? Is it Texas, Alabama or Minnesota?

Pilar: And. The reasons we're not just, an Excel spreadsheet rationale of a cost savings benefit analysis. So it comes into a lot [00:21:30] more of the social factors of how these. Foreign companies are starting to invest to 

Art: well, that's interesting. I have, I don't know if I've heard exactly that kind of a question, but I have heard that kind of it's I'm no longer [00:21:45] surprised if that came up either in a client inquiry, you and I probably think why is that so relevant?

Art: We're not to diminish the, not to diminish that there is a real, Problem there with crime and gun violence and all of that sort of thing, but wouldn't necessarily. Yeah, [00:22:00] you and I wouldn't think of that as being a material factor in deciding, like you said, site selection. But yeah, 

Pilar: more generally, 

Art: yeah, things have changed.

Art: There's a couple things there. One is I think there's probably a sensitivity more broadly to, [00:22:15] especially from Chinese companies or any international companies of how they'll be perceived in the local community, right? And so culturally they'll fit in. And so for that, so that's relevant. Whereas maybe we wouldn't think that should be relevant.

Art: But these days, it maybe it [00:22:30] is. And so some states, like you said, Texas might be a little more open these days to foreign to, to companies coming in with foreign investment than others. And then you've got, That's would go back to what we said more at the top of this whole perception [00:22:45] versus reality.

Art: Again, got crime and gun violence is definitely a problem. That's that is a reality. But maybe the perception in, let's say, China of how bad things are in the US, it could be even worse. So that we're [00:23:00] all somewhat of and we're the same way here. We're all a bit of a victim of. Where we get our information from, right?

Art: So 

Pilar: absolutely. 

Art: Yeah. I was, cause, cause I've, I, we've talked about some of the clients that you've worked with anonymously. We've talked about some of the [00:23:15] clients you've worked with before since stories I've heard one to one talking with you over coffee, but I thought it would be great if you could share with our audience any more specific examples of.

Art: How you walk the client through the whole process, [00:23:30] right? Because I think What you do, of course, is very valuable, but still, there's probably, and I expect, especially with Chinese clients, there's still some, a bit of a learning curve for them. On how the value they get from working with you.

Art: So I'd be curious [00:23:45] how you what's the typical process, especially for a new client coming on board, how you help them solve the strategic problem. 

Pilar: Yeah thank you for the question. I think. With the clientele makeup that we have, as I mentioned before, Western clients, and I put [00:24:00] Japan in that bundle and let's just for argument's sake, put India in that bundle too, probably represent about 80 to 90 percent of our clients.

Pilar: So our volume of Chinese clients is small, but growing mightily which I'm very proud of. So taking it from the perspective of [00:24:15] that larger massive clientele who come to us, they typically come to us and their problem statement is, I need to grow. The only region geographically that's growing for our industry is Asia Pacific.

Pilar: Help me figure out how to crack [00:24:30] that. And many times, especially with multinationals, they've got a very solid footprint already. It's not as if they need the one on, what is India's GDP and population? What they're really after is, you know, help me [00:24:45] understand how to compete locally, and this is becoming more and more relevant for our China clients as well.

Pilar: So the kind of services that they are looking for that we often are being asked to support them in is both [00:25:00] formulating that strategic plan. And then actually delivering it, so what that turns into is sitting down with the client and saying, let's get a both an inside out and an outside in perspective.

Pilar: Let's understand your business operations, [00:25:15] understand your business model. Look at what your core services are. How do we expand that core and grow beyond it? Whether that means other products, other geographies, other partners, and then how do we even go well beyond that core for the [00:25:30] future, 10 to 15 year vision?

Pilar: And that might be, going into something that is so foreign to what they are today. If they're an HVAC company, for example, going beyond the core might mean, okay, let's go from, Heating and venting and just air conditioning units [00:25:45] into something like building security. That's adjacent, but then what would be way out there?

Pilar: Maybe we can start getting into, artificial intelligence for temperature controls in cities where [00:26:00] climate change is affecting the way in which those the air quality and pollution is working. But, that's moonshot. So we, they come to us and say, how do we grow the core, expand the core and go well beyond the core?

Pilar: And what are some of those immediate? [00:26:15] Activities that we need to take on. So those initiatives take anywhere from, 2 to 4 months and it's very intensive because like I said, inside out means we talk with client outside in means we're going out and doing field research. So we're speaking with their [00:26:30] customers and competitors to really get a perspective of the market, because as I like to say, to my clients, your opinion on what you should do while possibly interesting is totally irrelevant.

Pilar: The market is what matters. So we're always [00:26:45] telling our client. You have to understand what your customers are after and where they're going instead of just forcing your opinion, which is probably very closely aligned to be fair, but you really need that outside in. Once we have that whole [00:27:00] map identified, we build out the whole execution plan.

Pilar: We then go into delivery mode and that delivery mode looks a lot like a business transformation exercise. It's. Activating anything from a sales and marketing [00:27:15] perspective. It's implementing some organizational changes, adopting a new digital strategy and technology innovation program within that company as well.

Pilar: And that's all done under kind of our guidance and leadership to carry that through. And that's really [00:27:30] where the value is. We have a tagline that you'll find on our website that's called Strategy Delivered. And that's exactly what it is. It's the delivery of that strategy or a strategy they've already defined elsewhere.

Art: Got it. Okay. [00:27:45] That's fantastic because I, I can I can tell just by going on the website that you have these wonderful testimonials, which I'm sure it didn't take too much prodding to get from your clients because they've seen, they all seem quite happy with the work that you've done at this.

Art: That's what [00:28:00] struck me as I don't see many firms with that many amazing kind of testimonials on their site. So it's just a tribute to the work that you guys do. And the last thing I wanted to touch on because I know speaking of your firm, I know historically so much of The work that you've done over the years has been M.

Art: N. A. [00:28:15] Related and, and the testimonials also speak to that. So I wonder if you could comment a bit about obviously M. N. A. or globally has slowed down. As you mentioned, the interest rates changing, increasing over the last few years, and [00:28:30] I'm sure that's 1 of the primary factors. D.

Art: What are you seeing? Any trends in the region as far as M. N. A. Activity and. And who is active and who and how things may or may not change in the near future. 

Pilar: Yeah, no, I think you've hit on [00:28:45] it and just, 1 of the things I was looking into is just as far as Chinese M& A deals and how they have slipped.

Pilar: It's been pretty severe. So when you look at M& A deals in 2023, they were at about 2, 500, according to [00:29:00] S& P. When you look at 2022, the year before, they were. At 2, 598. There it's just, it's a small decline, but it's definitely directional and going in that area. And in 2019, they were the lowest for [00:29:15] the whole decade at.

Pilar: Just at 2, 500 this seems to be the sweet spot number for the last 5 years. What. We anticipate is we do see a little bit of uptick in our M and a practice. But it is, again, industry [00:29:30] centric, so some of the categories where we see it is energy. So some of our clients in the energy space, whether it be oil and gas, new energy, battery storage and energy transmission and then also on [00:29:45] the telecom media and technology, the sector that seems to be driving as well.

Pilar: There's also, in terms of our anecdotal experience, automotive, we're seeing quite a bit, and we would actually bundle the EV piece under there, more so [00:30:00] than energy, but on that mobility piece, just to give you a case example, we are working right now on 2 separate deals tied to China, and it's 1 of them is, On the buy side, the other on the sell [00:30:15] side.

Pilar: So on the buy side, it's in the automotive aftermarket, and this, sheds light on foreign companies open to and willing to invest in acquiring Chinese players. Not opposed to finding a Chinese [00:30:30]company that would be a good fit from, A product standpoint for export, a product standpoint from getting deeper into the market.

Pilar: So it's to hit both. The valuations 

Art: are probably pretty attractive these days, especially for Chinese. That are pegged to the Chinese [00:30:45] capital markets for P ratios and stuff, so forth. 

Pilar: Exactly. Exactly. And then, on the sell side example, we've got one company that does have a plant there and in.

Pilar: Latin America, and they are in the process [00:31:00] of trying to explore not for geopolitical reasons, purely just owner ready to exit. They are also looking to explore potential buyers from anywhere in the world, and they have their hypothesis is we believe the buyer should be a Chinese buyer. [00:31:15] And that's been an aggressive play on the sell side.

Art: And, for those kind of I'm curious how you work with folks because a lot of these companies in Asia that you might be working with and are acquisitive [00:31:30] in these days are they green at all? Do you have to walk them through more of the process as far as, how you, you think about going about a deal and on, then on the backend, getting ready for the, the post merger integration.

Art: How has your team traditionally [00:31:45] helped companies, let's say maybe that are a little less experienced in M& A. 

Pilar: Yeah, there's, there is a bit of the not just on The tactics of acquisition and deal transaction, but also on the on the landscape of the markets that we're [00:32:00] talking about.

Pilar: So sometimes when the remit or the mandate is a pan Asia, and we showcase Indonesian company, a Thai company, a Chinese company, and a Japanese company, there's a separate section outlining, here's a Japanese. [00:32:15] that you need to be aware of on top of, everything else. So that's something to be thinking about with regards to helping companies do this.

Pilar: It's actually quite common that the individuals within these organizations that are working [00:32:30] on these deals come with enough background in, in transactions, whether they're bankers themselves and they've just gone in house. Or that they've done deals within the company before and they just get it.

Pilar: Or a third example is they may be private equity owned. And so they're [00:32:45] having the PE guys get involved in the project. So either way, the amount of education possibly needed and how the transaction works isn't necessarily something that we're finding ourselves having to do. I will share though, that on the post merger [00:33:00] integration, that's a key core competence of ours.

Pilar: And that's, Essentially, when you look at our founder and I started, I gave you that whole Japanese background, but our founder, Japanese gentleman by the name of Yuki Ishida, he actually is former Goldman Sachs guy. [00:33:15] So he's Columbia university educated, spent a lot of time in the States, but has that knack for investments.

Pilar: And so when YCP was first started, it was all on the concept of Taking M& A deals [00:33:30]and then helping them implement and integrate and realize the synergies that they went after in the first place. So we go through and do PMI all the time with clients. And what I think is most telling is we ourselves are quite acquisitive and [00:33:45] having done, on record, I think we've probably finished about.

Pilar: three, maybe four deals in the last two years. So we ourselves walk our talk. We have a very structured methodology. How does the first hundred day plan go? How many BD [00:34:00] interactions do you have? What's the HR and the closing activities? So it's it's kind of part of our DNA. But when talking about, what are clients doing in China right now with regards to M& A, I think that there is definitely heightened interest again and it's [00:34:15] encouraging to see because, like you said, the valuation is there, but I would argue that it's probably some of the smaller sized companies that don't have to go through so many hoops to jump through in the boardrooms at your fortune fifties, where they've got a little bit of a concern around [00:34:30] making deeper investment in China.

Art: That makes sense. But no, nevertheless, you guys are well positioned I think, I would guess, especially because you have your DNA in Asia and the deep experience there and that focus there. I imagine the PMI is, so much of it is [00:34:45] just as much kind of the cultural integration as it is anything else, and that put, I can't think of anyone, more focused than you guys on in Asia.

Art: So I think that's probably, it's another thing that makes you guys stand out. To help on that part of the process. 

Pilar: [00:35:00] Thanks. 

Art: Yeah I think. Pilar I think people listen to this, there's going to be no shortage of people that want to reach out and it could be anywhere from an inquiry, about potential, potentially helping them or or, other ways to work with you.

Art: What is [00:35:15] traditionally the best way people can reach out to you? Is it LinkedIn or go to the, your website or how should people contact you? 

Pilar: Yeah, that's a great question. And both are very valuable. So my LinkedIn is publicly available. I encourage people to follow up with [00:35:30] me.

Pilar: I'm quite responsive there. And then also, yes, our website does have. Direct access with reforms to to reach our team and your inquiries, if they are specific to a certain geography or a certain industry. Are directed to the [00:35:45] most appropriate partner within our firm. As you mentioned, there's about 400 plus people in our organization and we've got well over 20 partners.

Pilar: So there's a lot of industry specialization and there's also a lot of geographic specialization. And I'm always happy to make sure that you're [00:36:00] connected to the right folks as well. 

Art: Great. Thanks Pilar for joining. It's been fascinating. I think we hit on a lot of topics that, that are really hot and in the news these days.

Art: And I think the audience will get quite a bit out of listening to this episode.

Pilar: Art, like I said at the beginning, I was, I've been looking forward to [00:36:15] this. So thank you for making it happen. And we're excited to be partnering and collaborating with you.

Pilar: So congratulations on this great podcast program. You've been developing and driving for the last few years. 

Art: Thanks. Much appreciated. Thank you again for coming on the show.