U.S.-TRADED CHINESE FIRM GETS PR HELD
China's New Oriental Education and Technology Group, which is publicly traded in the U.S., is shoring up its PR defenses in the U.S. and abroad after getting tangled in reports of an SEC crackdown on Chinese auditors and an investment bank's suggestion it might be a target.
Brunswick Group's Beijing and New York offices are advising New Oriental and handling media amid the reports.
After the SEC said Dec. 3 that foreign units of five global accounting firms have been charged after refusing to cooperate with a probe into nine unnamed China-based, U.S.-traded companies, Wells Fargo said New Oriental Education, along with another U.S.-traded Chinese company, Ambow Education Holding, was at risk of delisting.
Bloomberg News reported that Wells Fargo later updated its Dec. 4 report, saying it didn't intend to imply that New Oriental was the subject of the SEC probe and was speaking generally of Chinese stocks listed in the U.S.
After its shares fell on the Wells Fargo and SEC news, New Oriental initially said on Dec. 5 its policy was not to comment on unusual market activity. But hours later the company released a statement to “clarify” that even though its auditor, Deloitte Touch Tohmatsu, was one of five charged by the SEC in its probe, New Oriental was not the client referred to in SEC proceedings.
New Oriental's ADRs, which trade on the New York Stock Exchange, were up two percent in morning trading to $17.74, with a 52-week range of $9.41-$29.19.
In addition to Deloitte, the auditors targeted by the SEC include affiliates of Ernst & Young, KPMG and PricewaterhouseCoopers, as well as BDO China Dahua Co.
KGA WORKS CHINA LITHIUM GRAB
Chengu Tianqi, a Chinese battery maker, is working with PR counsel in Australia and Canada as it moves to outbid New Jersey-based Rockwell Holdings to acquire Australian lithium ore giant Talison.
CT said Dec. 6 it has reached a deal to acquire Talison, which is traded on the Toronto Stock Exchange and is the world's top producer of lithium ore, for about $855M, trumping an earlier deal by Rockwood worth around $732M.
CT is working with Kreab Gavin Anderson's Toronto and Sydney offices.
Rockwood on Nov. 20 acknowledged a "competing bid" but said it had no intention of engaging in a bidding process.
Talison's board Dec. 6 threw its support behind the CT higher bid, urging shareholders to approve the deal in February.
Lithium production has surged for its use in rechargeable batteries needed for devices like mobile phones and tablets, while electric vehicles and solar technology are expected to increase demand as well.
Talison shares were trading at $7.32 on Dec. 6, surpassing its 52-week range of $2.84-$7.25.