Far East investors eye stakes in region’s companies

GROWING numbers of Chinese investors are interested in buying or taking stakes in Yorkshire-based companies, according to a senior figure at HSBC in Yorkshire.

Sneha Manohar has taken on the new role of international manager at HSBC’s corporate banking team in Yorkshire and the north east, after moving to Leeds from the bank’s New York office.

Ms Manohar is supporting businesses with turnovers of more than $50m. She is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, and has also lived and studied in France and Canada. As a student, Ms Manohar secured internships at Goldman Sachs in Hong Kong and BNP Paribas in New York, and she speaks English, French, Hindi, Tamil and Spanish,

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Ms Manohar had previously worked as a private equity investment analyst with Cogent Partners in Texas. She said yesterday: “I’ve been amazed at how diverse the business community is in Yorkshire.

“Many of the conversations I’ve had with prospective, as well as existing customers, have revolved around their expansion plans.”

Globally, a large amount of investment activity is being driven by Chinese entrepreneurs.

She said: “China as a country is eager to grow its international presence, and is pursuing opportunities abroad quite aggressively. You’ve got a lot of young entrepreneurs from China who are here with the sole aim of investing in other countries.

“They have an eye to finding businesses that are attractive to invest in. That’s not unique to the UK, it’s a global phenomenon, simply because of how eager China is to grow in the international market space.”

Neil Abbott, HSBC’s senior corporate banking manager in Yorkshire, said that over the last six months “a dozen or so meetings have been fielded” with potential Chinese investors.

He added: “We’re alive and open to inward opportunities from anywhere in the world, but the Far East is probably the one where the established companies in the Yorkshire region add real value to the market place, beyond just commodity production. It’s a rich production heritage that these guys (the investors) want to tap into.”

Ms Manohar added: “The world 10 to 15 years from now is going to be a borderless business community. The only way to thrive in that community is to have had the experience of having worked across cultures, countries, and jurisdictions, and understand how those nuances interplay.

“The media has always played a role in the pace at which borders have been brought down, and the pace at which businesses and individuals interact. Everyday life is determined by how well you interact across markets, and across language and cultural barriers, so you have to up your game.”