Heavyweight global investment firms are sticking with China despite a sweeping crackdown on business by the ruling Communist Party that has wiped $3 trillion off the market value of the country’s biggest companies.
Even as authorities rip up the status quo for tech, education and other private enterprise, drawing comparisons with Mao Zedong’s Cultural Revolution in the process, some of the biggest names in asset management say it’s still a good time to invest. They say recent regulatory moves were necessary and overdue, and China’s growth story remained attractive. “The case for China in the long-term is intact,” said Luca Paolini, chief strategist for Pictet Asset Management. The firm is an arm of Swiss private bank Pictet Group, which has $746 billion assets under management.
Pictet isn’t alone. Many of the biggest names on Wall Street, including BlackRock (BLK), the world’s largest asset manager, Fidelity and Goldman Sachs (GS), are still advising clients to keep buying, albeit cautiously. The “intensity” of the measures “will fluctuate,” wrote strategists at BlackRock in an August research note. “Chinese authorities will likely balance their regulatory agenda against a desire for economic stability, and the intensity of the regulatory crackdown may ease amid slower growth and market volatility.”
The clampdown over the past year has shaken many businesses to their core, and may also be acting as a drag on economic growth. The services sector contracted in August for the first time in 18 months. Financial tech firm Ant Group is reportedly worth half what it was before a planned public offering was shelved last November and it was forced to overhaul its business. Shares in ride-hailing company Didi have failed to come close to their IPO price after Beijing began probing the company earlier this summer. And wide-ranging rules unveiled in July essentially shut down China’s $120 billion for-profit tutoring sector. The MSCI China Index, which tracks large and mid-cap Chinese companies, has fallen more than 13% this year. By contrast, the MSCI World Index has risen more than 16%.