My “Speed Read” China Book is Now an Amazon Best-Seller

One Hour China BookClick here to buy at Amazon for $3.99

#1  – Amazon best seller in “History-Asia-China”

#2 – Amazon best seller in “Business & Money->International”

“One hour with this book will make you an expert on business in China.”

- Dick Gephardt, Majority-Minority Leader, U.S. House of Representatives, 1989-2002

“This book simplifies China in a very elegant and smart way. These distinguished authors tell you clearly what you most need to know right now.”

- James McGregor, author of One Billion Customers: Lessons from the Front Lines of Doing Business in China

“Without question, the best 60 minutes you will spend on China.”

- Jonathan Anderson, Emerging Markets Advisors
This is the China book for everyone – whether an expert or novice. It can be read in an hour and gives you most of what you need to know about China business today – and its increasing impact on the rest of the world.

This “speed-read” book is the distilled knowledge of two Peking University business professors with over 30 years of experience on the ground in China and the emerging markets. According to authors Jeffrey Towson and Jonathan Woetzel, “if we had the undivided attention of someone from Ohio, Brighton or Lima for just one hour, this little book is what we would say.”

This book is co-written with Jonathan Woetzel, a senior partner of McKinsey & Company. He opened McKinsey’s Shanghai location in 1995 and has been resident since then. He currently the global leader of its Cities Special Initiative and the Asia-based Director of the McKinsey Global Institute. He has led many of the Firm’s most significant projects in China including the first major international listing of a Chinese company and the development of the economic plans for the cities of Shanghai, Wuhan, Shenzhen, Xian and Harbin among others. He co-chairs the Urban China Initiative along with Tsinghua University and Columbia University to catalyze the next stage of China’s urbanization.


The Simple Equation Behind China’s Big Pig Deal

Chinese Shuanghui’s $4.7 billion acquisition of American Smithfield Foods is a big deal. First, it is the largest Chinese take-over of an American company to date. That’s important. Second, it reveals the simple equation by which large Chinese companies can become true multinationals, which is:

C + E + B + BE = Chinese Multinational

More on this in a moment. First, it is worth noting how confused the discussion of the big pig deal has been. Commentary has been all over the map.

  • Smithfield Food has stated the deal will increase their exports to China. Probably true.
  • The New York Times described this as a supplier deal (Needing Pork, China is to Buy a US Supplier). Not really.
  • Shuanghui’s CEO has said Smithfield’s expertise will be used to modernize its operations (and China’s agricultural supply chain). This is definitely true.
  • Virginia government officials are worried American jobs will be lost as Shuanghui moves Smithfield’s operations back to China. Probably true.
  • There are widespread concerns about China’s food safety problems being introduced directly into American markets (Bloomberg article). Unlikely.
  • And there are concerns about Shuanghui’s environmental record (who knows?).

Overall, the discussion of the deal is confused. Continue reading

The Relapsing-Remitting Sclerosis of China’s Healthcare System

 But first, please sign up on the upper right to stay in contact. Thanks.

Healthcare is one of those subjects I obsess about. The dollars are huge (e.g., $3 trillion in the USA). It is uber- complicated. And as the government is perpetually involved, things are always economically contorted. You can find ridiculous profits and ROIC’s in healthcare, such as you would never find in free markets. It is politically distorted capitalism writ large – which I like.

Healthcare deals also tend to scare off lots of smart investors. Human disease is inherently complicated. Healthcare services largely defy attempts at standardization. And healthcare investing requires a mix of business, clinical and policy knowledge – a pretty rare combination. So lots of smart investors just stay away. If you have a room of 100 investors, virtually everyone will have an opinion about Wal Mart and Apple. But as soon as you mention a medical device company, 90% go silent. There is just a lot less competition for healthcare investments – which is a big thing in private deals.

And if you add China into this discussion (i.e., clinical + business + politics + China), you pretty much eliminate the other 10%. When it comes to China healthcare investments, I usually find myself the only person in the room with an opinion.

The article is continued here (page 11)

A Value-Added Strategy for Mexican Private Equity

An interview with Roberto Charvel, Managing Partner at Vander Capital

Private equity and venture capital in Mexico is becoming more and more interesting. The revenue numbers have become impressive so there are significant-sized opportunities now. There are deep US cross-border ties so the deal networks are there. And the deals are still off the radar for most US investors so it’s both an attractive and under-mined area. The interesting question is how to capture the opportunity.

With this in mind, we spoke with Roberto Charvel, founder and Managing Partner of Vander Capital Partners in Naucalpan de Juárez, Mexico. Vander is a privately owned investment group that focuses on early stage equity financing. They have unique expertise in value added early stage deals, typically working in close collaboration with local entrepreneurs. We asked Roberto about his current strategy and deals (including Kubo Financiero) – and where he sees the opportunities in the coming years.

Jeff: How would you describe the approach of your group?

Roberto: We are an early-stage opportunity firm. Our focus is on three industries: real estate, mining and financial services. The first two of these are not traditionally thought of as venture capital areas in the developed world. But they are great non-traditional opportunities in emerging markets, especially in countries like Mexico.

Interview is continued here.

Six Winning Strategies for Middle East and China Deals (or Why the New Silk Road Failed)

By Jeffrey Towson, Kevin Tetarenko, Ehab Tantawy

What Happened to the New Silk Road?

In 2007, the “new Silk Road” was born. It was headline-making vision for how the Middle East and Asia would reconnect after 700 years of political and economic separation. It was a grand vision – a historic re-opening of ties that would be a game-changing new geopolitical axis.

And the economics of this vision were both simple and powerful. Oil-rich GCC countries would integrate with rapidly rising and energy hungry Asia. The new Silk Road was to be the beginning of massive movements of oil, capital, infrastructure projects and people. Continue reading

David Riedel on Equity Research in the Emerging Markets

An interview with David Riedel, founder of equity research firm Riedel Research

Investing outside of the West brings a host of challenges for value investors. There are different politico- economic systems, rapidly changing economies, unfamiliar cultures, different consumer habits, different languages, limited information, weak governance, and so. These types of uncertainties can be challenging for traditional security analysis – especially when the analyst is located halfway around the world.

This month we spoke with David Riedel of Riedel Research Group about investing in such environments. Riedel Research group is an independent emerging markets-focused research firm. We asked him about where he sees opportunities today and how he deals with the unique aspects of analyzing developing economy companies.

Jeff: First question. For your group, how would you describe your focus?

David: We are a global emerging markets independent equity research firm. We are independent, in that we don’t do banking and brokerage. We operate in Asia, Japan, Latin America, and emerging Europe, which gives us broad coverage of emerging markets. Continue reading


Jeffrey Towson at Guanghua

Jeffrey Towson at Guanghua

Guanghua Press release – Chinese version. The link is here

由光华管理学院和麦肯锡公司(McKinsey & Company)合作的校企课程——当前中国投资与战略专题(Current Topics on Chinese Strategy and Investment)于本月18日晚热烈开讲。今年是该校企合作课程开设的第三年,与前两年一样,该课程一开讲便立即受到MBA同学的追逐和热捧。
课程第一讲由Jeffrey Towson先生主讲,Jeffrey Towson先生在从事投资行业的同时还在剑桥大学任EMBA课程教授,他是畅销书的作者。他的研究领域集中于新兴市场(中国,中东,拉丁美洲等),以及他们与西方日渐增长的互动关系。

        Jeff一开场便向大家提出了Carlos Slim及其名下公司、迪拜塔和中国移动的问题。在新兴市场中,这三者都在自己的行业领域中处于全球首位或者接近全球首位(Carlos Slim还是是世界首富)。随着Jeff的讲解,这些在新兴经济国家里读MBA的学生们,很快就领悟到了问题的要点——新兴经济体在过去十年中获得了巨大的经济增长。

Press Release from PKU Guanghua. Kind of cool of them.

(Reposted from the Peking University Guanghua Webpage. Here the link)

Jeffrey Towson at Guanghua

On Oct 18th, at Guanghua School of Management , students gathered for the “Current Topics in Chinese Strategy and Investment” class by Jeffrey Towson. Jeff is an investor, best selling author (USA Today and Inc. Magazine) and Clinical Professor for Investment & Strategy at Guanghua, focused on emerging markets (China, Middle East, Latin America) and their increasing collision with the West.

The class opened with questions on  three entities: Carlos Slim, Burj Dubai, China Mobile- three emerging market entities that are (or have been, but still close to) #1’s in the world. Being in an emerging economy themselves, students quickly catch on to the point – the tremendous growth of these entities and their economies.

Continue reading

The Only Investment Question I Care About

I found my life got dramatically more effective – and a lot less anxious – at two key moments.

The first was when I realized I didn’t really understand business. I could quote past studies. I could fill charts with data. I could recite various pieces of wisdom from various people. But my understanding was like a patchwork quilt of other people’s thinking. It wasn’t a real understanding of the underlying mechanics. Not really. Just descriptions of various outcomes.

So one day, I just went back to mathematics, the only thing I was ever a natural at in life. I dropped all my business training and started to look at investing as one giant math problem. I discarded all the language and began creating my own. I stopped thinking about security analysis and started reframing everything as uncertainty analysis.

And suddenly everything clicked (key moment #1). (continued)

The full article is available for download here.

Carlos Zalles of LW Investment Management on BPZ Energy and Other Latin America Value Plays

Western investors and Latin American are the “odd couple” of value investing.

In terms of geography, culture and even language they are quite close – especially when compared to other developed to developing economy situations. And you have a long history of personal relationships between the regions which is critical for cross- border deals.

And yet, Western capital and Latin American opportunities remain conspicuous far apart.

It’s a problem but its also an opportunity. This is the type of situation where trusted investors can add tremendous value.

In this vein, we spoke with Carlos Zalles of LW Investment Management. Mr. Carlos Zalles has been operating between the West and Latin America for over thirty years, with a strong focus on natural resources. We spoke with him about what opportunities he sees in Latin America today – and what his predictions are for the next 3-4 years.  (continued)

The full article is available for download here.