One of Australia’s biggest private investment platforms is gearing up to launch its services in China, tapping into increasing demand for Australian investment opportunities from high-net-worth individuals and professional investors.
Wholesale Investor, which began as a specialist emerging company and small cap investment magazine in 2008, is planning to launch four events in China in 2018, in collaboration with partner firm and shareholder, BMY Group.
China-focused BMY, which is led by managing director Eric Gao, invested $1.4 million in Wholesale Investor last year, adding significant weight to the platform’s network of more than 300 emerging, pre-IPO and listed companies seeking capital and more than 17,000 individual investors.
Wholesale Investor managing director Steve Torso said the two firms would take between 10 and 15 emerging companies to China to pitch to BMY Group’s network of investors.
The companies will also add to a suite of regular events in Singapore and Hong Kong throughout 2018.
Mr Torso said participants at Wholesale Investors’ regular events and conferences in Australia had urged him to establish a presence in China since the first event was launched about six years ago.
“At every single event we have at least one person come up to us and say, ‘you should be doing this in China’,” Mr Torso told Australia China Business Review.
“The more visibility that we can create and the opportunities that we can create, there’s a really interesting potential for Australian companies looking to go over to China.
“It’s nice that we have a partner with BMY and seeing the growth of their business and knowing the capital networks they’ve got in China, it gives us a lot of confidence that we will be able to go over there and actually do it.
“That’s the big leverage and driving point for me.”
Mr Torso said the China initiative had its genesis in 2014, when the company launched its first offshore investor event in Singapore.
“That really changed our reference because we realised that internationally, investors were interested in Australia because of our strong financial regulatory system, and also the understanding that Australia has good innovation and good technology, but we have a small marketplace to go to,” Mr Torso said.
“When you’re dealing with technology that has relevance to South-East Asia or to China, the opportunities become a lot more interesting.
“The hard part is, if you’re a growth company and you want to test your potential in China, where do you go? Who do you go and speak to?
“There is no real platform for companies, so that’s the mechanism and the role that we want to play.”
Mr Torso said the China events would focus on sectors that were already gaining interest from Chinese investors and Chinese companies, particularly agribusiness, technology and healthcare.
A report released midway through last year by global accounting firm KPMG showed there had been considerable capital flowing from China to Australia in recent years, with more than $US90 billion ($155 billion) invested by Chinese companies or high-net-worth individuals since 2007.
China’s restrictions on capital outflows, and its ban on crypto-currencies, would restrict what types of companies Wholesale Investor would bring to the country, but Mr Torso said the events would not focus solely on attracting direct investment, but also what trade opportunities could emerge between Australian and Chinese companies.
“Basically, the idea for us is to spend a week and a half to do a four-city roadshow with companies who are willing to come with us,” Mr Torso said.
“In that period, we want to partner with as many media groups and local capital groups as possible to work with us in the set up for that event.
“If we look from the perspective of trade opportunities more so than just capital, it makes it more appealing.”