China House launched in Melbourne
Australian law firm Chambers & Company has launched a new consultancy practice specialising in securing Chinese investment in Australian projects in a range of fields including resources and agri-business projects. China House will be based out of Hong Kong but was opened in Melbourne by His Excellency Zhou Wenzhong, Secretary-General, Boao Forum for Asia in late August.
For 28 years, renowned resources lawyer, Robin Chambers has been assisting Chinese investors invest into Australia and other prominent countries through his role as Senior Partner with Chambers & Company.
The Melbourne-based firm, with offices across Australia and China, has a rich history and experience in providing legal services to Chinese state owned and private enterprises. Its most high profile case was its appointment by the Chinese Government as lead counsel for China’s first major overseas project, the $420 million Channar Joint Venture with Rio Tinto. The project has in turn proven to be the most profitable Chinese overseas investment project of all time.
The firm has advised on major projects underpinned by export contracts for the supply of iron ore to China aggregating more than AU$30 billion.
The firm says it has a 100 percent success rate on securing Foreign Investment Review Board approvals for Chinese State Owned Enterprise’s investment in Australian projects.
In August, Chambers & Company launched its latest initiative, China House.
China House has been established in Hong Kong to provide Chinese Investors access to quality projects in Australia and other selected markets including Africa and Latin America.
While China House has a separate advisory board, it will leverage off its relationship with Chambers & Company, to assist investors with consulting issues beyond legal services, including assisting Chinese investors to connect with projects and businesses in Australia and other international projects as well as assistance in seeking funding and project development.
*Pictured right: Lillian Savage, Director, China House, Robin Chambers, Senior Partner, Chambers & Company, His Excellency Zhou Wenzhong, Secretary-General, Boao Forum for Asia and Ms Vicki Guo, China Relations Manager, China House.
While China House will be manned for the moment from Chamber & Company offices in Melbourne and Beijing, Hong Kong is the chosen locale for China House, due to its geographic and financial positioning as a bridge between Mainland China and the rest of the world. Hong Kong is considered an ideal business haven for commercial and tax reasons and continues to maintain its financial strength as a centre for money coming out of China, and its role in the internationalization of the Renminbi.
“We’ve been working on setting up China House for some time – to assist SOEs to set up investment in Australia,” says Mr Chambers.
The business’s key objective is working alongside Chinese SOEs and individuals instead of taking projects to them and trying to sell them.
“It’s really about identifying the best fit for the investors,” says Mr Chambers.
“We have 28 years experience in the Chinese market and we really want to build on that trust into the future,” he says. “So it’s really about understanding what investors want, and offering a cultural understanding and a due diligence perspective so they can really benefit in Australia.”
Mr Chambers says the role of China House is not to be an investment bank, but an investment supporter.
While resources has been Mr Chambers main area of expertise and will remain a top export and source of FDI for Australia, he says new opportunities are opening up for investment into other sectors including agri-business.
“We are starting to generate a lot of agri-business – even in just a few months we have seen a rapid increase in interest in this sector.”
China House was formally launched in Melbourne by His Excellency Zhou Wenzhong, Secretary-General, Boao Forum for Asia and immediate past Ambassador to the United States in late August. ■