David Caslli: New advisory group will be a 'very useful tool' for Ateed.
Ateed founds advisory group assist with new investment
"Having China actively in the investment market means that there are more competitive sources of funds available than there were five years ago," says Ateed's David Caselli, a four-year veteran of doing business in Shanghai.
"The key for us is getting good advice and managing proper process and procurement."
To support this Ateed has established the China Business Advisory Group, the first of three business-centric advisory boards formed to support key sources of FDI (the other two being Australia and the United States).
"I can see us going to them with projects and asking them to evaluate the course of action we're proposing. It won't be the only source of information, rather a very useful tool and sounding board for us," says Caselli.
Auckland, as a cosmopolitan city with a strong Chinese community, is a place where a lot of Chinese companies are interested in working and setting up offices, but their investment will be felt throughout New Zealand.
Ateed recently appointed Dr Xiaoying Fu as its investment delivery manager following a career at ANZ where she was active in driving Asian relationships for the bank. "What Xiaoying does is give us own resource to be able represent Auckland City's interests in any negotiations on transactions," says Caselli.
"And when we are listening to discussions, and listening to them when we are negotiating transactions with the Chinese, we're listening with our set of ears on."
Fu says she realised when she first came to New Zealand there were a lot of things relating to Chinese matters that are not done well in this country.
"We appointed Liu Feng as the chair of the group, he is probably in his late 50's and has been working pretty much all of his life in Cosco and has travelled around the world helping Cosco in different branches," says Fu. "He has been here since 2003 speaks really good English and really knows both sides really well.
"And he's really well respected in the Chinese community and is currently the Chairman of the Chinese Chamber of Commerce in NZ."
Fu says Terry Lee has built a wealth of knowledge through the Crafar Farms bid, on the NZ legal system, how to do public relationships and partner with a NZ company.
Adds Caselli, "Here's someone who went from farming transactions but now they're doing the Whangaparoa land development, so you know they're into infrastructure.
"So he's useful for us, he's now starting to get his hands dirty doing land-based construction activities and looking at infrastructure saying this seems pretty obvious.
"If we put the PenLink in we can unlock more of Whangaparoa. How do we engage in that?"
Fu observes that York Zhang might be young but Ateed wanted the group of people to represent both different sectors and ages.
"He was educated here and set up his own company from nothing. It's a financial company and basically he's doing mortgages and real estate investment and gradually built up the network of investors."
Zhang also has an e-business selling NZ products on Alibaba and is chairman of the NZ China Youth Chamber of Commerce.
All seven initial members have been through an extensive Ateed vetting process which also involved NZ Government and Chinese officials.
Caselli says any conflicts of interest will be appropriately managed.
Seven of the most high-profile and well-connected Chinese businesspeople active in the New Zealand market have been recruited to assist the drive to spur new foreign direct investment into Auckland.
The initial seven members of the China Business Advisory Group are: Liu Feng (Managing Director, COSCO New Zealand), Terry Lee (Managing Director, Milk New Zealand which is a subsidiary of Shanghai Pengxin Group), Alan Lai (Chairman, PGG Wrightson), York Zhang (Managing Director, Plaxo), Wayne Huang - Founder & Principal, Institute of Commercial Education NZ), Mike Ma (NZ General Manager, China Southern Airlines) and Alex Chu (China Beachheads Adviser - New Zealand Trade and Enterprise).
Ateed CEO Brett O'Riley has experience working with Chinese businesses since the 1990s; David Caselli (General Manager Business Attraction & Investment) recently returned to New Zealand after spending four years working in investment in Shanghai; and Xiaoying Fu (Investment Delivery Manager) was previously Senior Manager for Asia - New Zealand Relationships at ANZ Bank.