(Yicai Global) Oct. 21 -- Chiefs of thirty multinational corporations have told Shanghai's mayor their ideas about how to develop the eastern megacity, including getting more firms to issue shares on the new Star Market, loosening foreign ownership restrictions, as well as aligning with global trade rules.
Members of the International Business Leaders' Advisory Council for the Mayor of Shanghai, including chiefs of the UK's Prudential, Japan's Nomura Holdings, and Swiss Novartis International, pondered how to turn the city more competitive at the Shanghai Mayor International Entrepreneurs' Consultation Conference held yesterday.
The group that was founded in 1989 has grown to include 40 members, as well as eight honorary ones, from 17 countries and regions, striving to support the development of the city. Next year's theme will be about economic opening-up.
Many of the MNC chiefs said that they have high expectations for China's new foreign investment law, taking effect on Jan. 1. They were hoping that China will become more open and supportive through the new policy that seeks to improve the protection of foreign companies' interests in China.
Shanghai needs to bring its existing laws and regulations in line with globally accepted trade rules, said Soopakij Chearavanont, chairman of Thailand's Charoen Pokphand Group.
Prudential's Chairman Paul Manduka said that Shanghai should quickly implement the easing of foreign ownership limitations, scheduled for next year, so that foreign financial companies could buy up to 51 percent of their China ventures' equity. The city could also consider allowing overseas insurers to hold majority stakes in more than one local insurance entities, he added.
In that vein, Nomura's Chief Executive Koji Nagai said that the Tokyo-headquartered financial holding company has become one of the first three foreign securities firms, along with J.P. Morgan Chase and UBS, to get the green light to pursue a controlling stake in its China joint venture.
The city's new Star Market, which started trading in July, was hailed. Shanghai should encourage eligible firms that have already gone public on other markets to also issue shares on the city's new Star Market to increase diversity and attract foreign investors, said Mark Edward Tucker, group chairman of HSBC Holdings.
The suggestions did not fall far from the trees of their givers. Shanghai should focus on artificial intelligence, smart manufacturing, cloud computing, machine learning, and the Internet of Things, said Salil Parekh, CEO of Indian information technology consultancy Infosys.
Tank storage provider Royal Vopak promoted commodities trading. The city could take better advantage of its free trade zone and become a regional petroleum, natural gas, and chemicals trading hub, said Eelco Hoekstra, CEO of the Rotterdam-headquartered firm.
Novartis suggested the city to boost the use of Big Data in its medical sector. Shanghai should consider allowing the drug firm to access medical data to come up with new services and explore fresh ways to manage chronic diseases, according to Joerg Reinhardt, chairman of the Basel-based pharmaceutical group.
Editor: Emmi Laine