PE Forum in China Reflects Maturing Relationship

ACG chair Charles Morton says 5,000-plus dealmakers are expected at Tianjin event

As cross-border deals between the U.S. and China continue to proliferate, the Association for Corporate Growth (ACG) is working to streamline the M&A process.

ACG chairman Charles Morton led the organization's U.S. delegation to the 7th China International Private Equity Forum (CIPEF) at the Meijiang Convention Center in Tianjin. Joining him was Andrew Rice, senior vice president of The Jordan Co., a private equity firm that specializes in doing deals in China.

The June event was jointly sponsored by the ACG, the Tianjin People's Government, the All-China Federation of Industry and Commerce and the Ministry of Science and Technology of the People's Republic of China.

Each year, the China PE forum looks to bring together more than 5,000 dealmakers, including U.S. PE firms that are looking to invest in China and network with roughly 1,000 companies seeking foreign investment, says Morton.

The initiative is all part of ACG's momentum in building the capabilities of the organization across the globe. "We spent a lot of time and effort developing chapters in China, and we now have two active groups - one in Beijing and one in Shanghai," Morton says. "This collaboration with Tianjin shows a maturing relationship and reflects ACG's broader goal of growing internationally."

The event also introduces Chinese dealmakers, who traditionally engage in a slower courting process, to Western-style deal-sourcing techniques. For example, forum attendees participate in "speed dating" sessions, in which bankers and PE partners meet for 25 minutes.

Mergers & Acquisitions caught up with Morton to talk about how the China PE forum can benefit the middle market in the future. The event is one of several moves the organization is making to expand around the world, including the new ACG EuroGrowth, November 12-13 in London. For one thing, Morton says, the forum has evolved over the years.

"Organizers have become more sophisticated in planning the event. They have sent a delegation to ACG InterGrowth for more than seven years. They're doing a good job of introducing China to many of the things that ACG has done to bring dealmakers together to facilitate transactions."

ACG DealSource "speed dating" sessions, which have become popular among networking dealmakers in the U.S., has been introduced to Chinese growth companies as a way to meet Western professionals, Morton explains.

"While it may be unusual in the Chinese community, it is particularly efficient," he reports. "As the economy in China continues to grow, one of the struggles is to find ways to increase efficiency."

The event also offered U.S. dealmakers a chance to listen to Chinese government officials about their openness to cross-border investment.

Such commentary helps to build confidence among investors and to thereby create deals, Morton adds.

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