Saturday, May 14, 2016

Would Greenland be immune to lawsuits in U.S. courts? State-owned companies practicing new defense

Reuters, in the 5/12/16 Chinese state entities argue they have 'sovereign immunity' in U.S. courts, reports:
Some Chinese state-owned entities, backed by the key government agency that oversees major state industrial companies, have adopted a controversial defence when they face U.S. lawsuits: You can't touch us because we enjoy sovereign immunity.
They include the Aviation Industry Corporation of China and the China National Building Materials Group Co. China's Foreign Ministry protested to the federal government on behalf of "the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission (SASAC), which is responsible for 106 government-owned enterprises." SASAC did not respond to the Reuters' request for comment.

The Greenland angle

This raises a very interesting question, because Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park (excepting the B2 tower, aka 461 Dean Street, and the Barclays Center), is now owned by Greenland Forest City Partners, which is 70% owned by Greenland  USA and 30% owned by Forest City Enterprises/Forest City Ratner.

And Greenland USA is a subsidiary of Greenland Holdings, which is owned significantly by the SASAC.

Consider this 2/24/16 press release from Fitch Ratings, which noted Greenland's "moderately strong linkage with its parent, the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission (SASAC) of Shanghai Municipality."

It's interesting to see that experts continue to refer to Greenland  as state-controlled, given that recently SASAC was diluted to minority ownership; perhaps that reflects that such a large shareholder, with only minimal allies, can still control the board.

As I wrote in February, Greenland is commonly called a "state-controlled enterprise group," as noted by this 12/9/15 note from ratings agency Moody's, with the Shanghai State-Owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission (SASAC) "effectively the largest shareholder." 

Greenland's own LinkedIn page still states that it "has become one of the biggest state-owned enterprise in Shanghai." (See below)

However, according to Greenland's Semi-Annual Report for the period ended 6/30/15, filed with the China Securities Regulatory Commission on 8/25/15, state entities held 44.72% of the shares, according to Greenland's New York p.r. representative. 

No English-language version of the report exists, according to a Greenland spokesperson, but the 55%/45% split was reported in the Sydney Morning Herald on 7/21/15.

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