PVC Pirates

Lina Saigol in today’s Financial Times claims that bankers are trembling with excitement.  The apparent cause of their dizziness is the bare knuckle approach taken by the Chinese Wanhua Industrial Group in acquiring a stake in Hungary’s BorsodChem.  After years of adopting a quiet style in making western investments, it appears that Chinese companies, according to Saigol, are adopting a more combative demeanour. 

This development, if it turns out to be a broader trend, is a timely reminder  for western companies not to be fooled by the “amateurish” look of many emerging Chinese companies’ website and communications’ styles.  As 19th century businessmen discovered to their cost, Cornelius Vanderbilt’s phonetic spelling was a poor indicator of his competitive sophistication.  Just as there is work to be done in understanding the competitive threat posed by companies in emerging markets, so there is a job for forward-thinking corporate communicators to develop an understanding of the communications’ practices of these same competitors.  We should not mistake the brand of “Chinglish” found on many Chinese companies websites for a lack of strategic sophistication.  If the bankers are trembling with excitement, communicators should be taking a hard look at who is likely to play by “the rules” and who isn’t.


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