Rothschild's China Play

Rothschild's purchase of 5% of Qingdao City Commercial Bank for EUR 25.4m (US$35m) could be part of a broader Asia strategy.

Rothschild regularly figures as an adviser on some of Europe's and North America's top M&A deals. But in Asia, its presence is relatively minor.

Could the purchase of QCCB shares be part of a wider strategy to address this weakness?

After all, Asia is rapidly emerging as the most important region economically. Its companies are bound to figure more prominently in M&A deals, both regional and intra-regional.

Interestingly, QCCB has a close relationship with Haier, a Chinese electronic goods manufacturer and one of China's most successful and high profile private companies.

Indeed, Haier may follow the same path trodden by computer firm, Lenovo, which bought IBM's PC division. In one fell swoop Lenovo gained international recognition and went global. This ambition is bound to be shared by China's growing band of private companies.

Could Haier make such a move by buying a big Western brand name?

If Haier decided on such a strategy, Rothschild, with its stake in QCCB, could be in pole position to bag the advisory role. This would introduce it to the Chinese market and give it an edge when bidding for other Chinese business.

On the other hand it could be nothing more than a shrewd investment. QCCB is apparently due to do an IPO soon. Having such a prestigious shareholder as Rothschild could help the shares fly once they're listed, giving the Anglo-French blue blooded bank a tidy profit in the process.