China's bribery crackdown to dampen luxury boom, says First State
Newly-imposed laws are set to suck the juice out of high-end retailers. Pricing power is now key, says First State's EM team.
by Emily Blewett on Oct 30, 2012 at 13:49
Newly-imposed anti-corruption laws in China will impact luxury brands that have postioned themselves to profit from the country's growing consumer base, according to First State managers Alistair Thompson and Jonathan Asante.
The laws which refer to gifts exchanged between the private and public sector and which came into effect at the beginning of October are expected to impact high-end luxury businesses.
'The government is clamping down on bribery acts that relate to luxury brands. For fine wines, the first growth figures this year have already halved,' said Thompson.
UK-listed luxury retailer Burberry this month confirmed weaker China sales figures, following an earlier warning that full-year profits would end the year lower than market expectations.
Last week, former UBS economist Klaus Wellershoff had the same message, telling delegates at Citywire's Italian retreat: 'Winter looks horrible for Chinese consumers.'
High-end luxury brands will be further hit by slowing growth in China, said Thompson who sees growth likely to remain at 4% for the coming years. Official forecasts from China are currently above 7% for the year.
Asante, speaking alongside Thompson revealed First States's emerging markets team were rather looking to hold quality consumer companies, which most importantly, have pricing power, as an inflation hedge.
Asante's First State Global Emerging Markets Leaders fund, with nearly €4 billion in assets, has more than a third invested in consumer staples. The benchmark weighting in consumer staples is currently 8.5%.
Some of the biggest holdings include Unilever, Tiger Brands and SAMiller.
'The last three years, we've seen increased government involvement. For the next few years we can expect low growth and monetary printing and in this environment, you have to go for companies with pricing power,' said Asante.
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