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Investors want to know how AIIB operates and roles it plays

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Zhou Yuan told a conference in Hong Kong last week that he could not promise to inform them, but that he hoped to entertain them. The dry-humoured head of strategy for China Investment Corporation then proceeded to do both as he talked about how China would view infrastructure investment in the region.

中投公司(China Investment Corporation)首席策略官周元最近在香港的一次会议上对与会者说,尽管他不能保证会向大家透露什么情报,但他希望大家会对他说的东西感兴趣。这位冷幽默风格的首席策略官后来谈到了中国对该地区基础设施投资的看法。

Few subjects generate more interest and debate in Asian financial circles than infrastructure. Participants want to know how the new China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank will operate and what roles other groups, such as banks and long-term investors, might play.

在亚洲金融圈里,鲜有话题比基础设施更能引起人们的兴趣和争论。与会者想知道,新成立的、中国主导的亚洲基础设施投资银行(Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank,简称:亚投行)到底将如何运作,以及银行、长期投资者等其他群体可能会扮演什么角色。

At the heart of the matter are enormous estimates of what Asia needs to spend on infrastructure in the coming years and questions about how much of this China will provide — and on what terms.

最重要的是,很多人都在估算未来几年亚洲需要在基础设施上投入多少,并猜测中国会为此提供多少资金、以及基于什么条件提供。

“If you can’t expect a return — that is, if you can’t expect infrastructure projects to pay you a dividend some time down the road, you can’t call that investment any more. You might as well call that a Marshall Plan,” Mr Zhou said at the Financial Times’ Investment Management Summit.

“如果你不能指望获得回报,也就是说,如果你不能指望基础设施项目在将来某个时刻向你支付红利,那你就不能再把它称作投资。你还不如把它称作马歇尔计划(Marshall Plan),”周元在英国《金融时报》投资管理峰会(FT Investment Management Summit)上表示。

Inevitably, comparisons abound between China’s AIIB and the US-financed 1948 Marshall Plan that supported European rebuilding after the second world war, and which deployed its current account surpluses in a way that supported American economic and geopolitical goals.

当然有很多人拿中国的亚投行与1948年由美国供资的马歇尔计划作比较。马歇尔计划支持了欧洲在二战后的重建,并且有效地利用了美国的经常账户盈余来支撑美国的经济和地缘政治目标。

China’s current plans include its Silk Road economic initiative (One Belt, One Road), its interest in a Brics development bank as well as the AIIB and other investments such as those funded by CIC, its sovereign wealth fund.

中国目前的计划包括“一带一路”、在金砖国家开发银行和亚投行中的出资,以及其他投资——比如由其主权财富基金中投公司供资的投资。

China Development Bank reckons the number of cross-border projects in train under the Silk Road effort already total $980bn in investment value. Other figures put Asia’s total need nearer $8tn by 2020. “Everyone will give you a different number. The one thing is they will all be wrong but they will all be big,” said James Cameron, head of project and export finance for HSBC in Asia.

中国国家开发银行(China Development Bank)估计,“一带一路”的项目储备库,涉及投资资金超过8900亿美元。其他数字则显示,亚洲直至2020年的基建总投资需求接近8万亿美元。汇丰 (HSBC)亚洲项目和出口融资主管詹姆斯•卡梅隆(James Cameron)表示:“每个人给出的数字都不同。只有一件事是肯定的,这些数字全是错的、但它们全都很大。”

Back on the ground, China’s planned spending has banks and other investors wondering what might be left for them. Project financiers are already struggling because regulators are forcing banks to hold more capital against long-term lending in riskier emerging markets.

回到具体问题上,银行及其他投资者想知道中国计划中的支出会给他们带来什么机会。项目金融家的日子已然不太好过,因为监管机构正迫使银行为在风险较高的新兴市场的长期放贷留出更多资本金。

Investors do not have it much easier. Backing a power station in Vietnam, secured against the future income of the plant, might seem a good bet to a pension fund manager looking for assets to match long-term liabilities. But regulators are worried about the currency and the country risk, so they ask for capital and other regulatory protections, pushing up the cost of such investments.

投资者的日子也没有好过多少。对一名物色资产以匹配长期负债的养老基金经理来说,投资越南的一座发电站并以该电站未来的收益作为担保,似乎是个不错的押注。但监管机构担心汇率和国家风险,因此他们要求留够资本金并设立其他监管保障,从而推高了这类投资的成本。

“Pension funds and insurance companies are very interested but may not always be able to invest,” said François Leblanc, head of BNP Paribas’s Asia-Pacific financial institutions team, who cited funds’ own investment guidelines as another constraint.

法国巴黎银行(BNP Paribas)亚太金融机构团队主管弗朗索瓦•勒布朗(François Leblanc)说:“养老基金和保险公司都非常感兴趣,但或许不总是能够投资。”他认为基金自身的投资准则也构成了限制。

“There are a lot of difficulties. Bridging the gaps isn’t easy between what markets can deliver today and what investors need,” he said.

他说:“困难很多,要填补如今市场供给与投资者需求之间的缺口并不容易。”

On that basis, Mr Zhou’s comments about a commercial focus, at least from CIC, will be welcome. One fear has been that China would persist with vendor-style financing, where many developing countries with natural resources received funding for infrastructure — supplied, financed and built by Chinese companies.

考虑到这一点,周元在商言商(至少是从中投立场出发)的评论应该会受到欢迎。近来有一种担忧是,中国会坚持供应商融资模式,即许多拥有自然资源的发展中国家得到资金来搞基建,而中国企业则是这些基础设施的供应商、资金提供方和建设方。


If China is more serious about a commercially based markets-based system — including through the AIIB, which it will lead — then Asia more generally stands to gain.

如果中国以更认真的态度建立一种在商言商的市场化机制(包括通过其主导的亚投行),那么亚洲就可更普遍地从中获益。

“The AIIB has a range of potential tools,” said HSBC’s Mr Cameron. “They could invest or fund directly, look at perhaps taking a slice of the risk, provide guarantees or help with ensuring the right advice is given upfront to structure projects to be more attractive for outside financing and investment. There’s a lot that could help develop the whole infrastructure financing space.”

“亚投行拥有一系列潜在的工具,”汇丰的卡梅隆说,“他们可以直接投资或拨款,考虑或许承担部分风险,提供担保,或帮助确保提前给出正确的建议,以便将项目安排得更具吸引力,好吸引外部融资和投资。有很多工具可帮助开发整个基础设施融资领域。”


Asian infrastructure is particularly tricky because of the region’s different legal systems and markets, all at varying stages of development. The sheer range of projects under way complicates the sector further. But any sign of standardisation — such as one power station or road system using the same funding template used by a previous, successful venture — would help the next project. And that could ultimately transform Asian financing as well as its infrastructure landscape.

亚洲基础设施格外不好做的原因是,该地区的法律体系和市场多种多样,而且都处于不同的发展阶段。进行当中的项目的范围之广,让这块业务变得更加复杂。但任何走向标准化的迹象——比如一个发电站或道路系统使用此前某个成功项目使用过的融资模式——都将有助于下一个项目。这最终可能会改变亚洲的融资及基础设施的面貌。

2016-06-24

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