A Deeper Look At Corporate Restructuring
The performance of General Motors (GM) and Nissan Motor were unsatisfactory in recent
years. GM recorded a loss of US$10.6 billion last year. According to a report published on 27
June 2006 in the Wall Street Journals, Nissan’s domestic production dropped by 25% in May,
declining for the fifth consecutive month since January 2006. Its exports fell by 16%. In contrast,
the domestic production of their major competitor, Toyota motor, rose for the ninth straight
month. As reported on 3 July 2006 in the Hong Kong Economics Times, Renault and Nissan were considering buying into GM and formed a strategic alliance for cost-cutting
purpose through the synergy effect.
The suggestion of the alliance further illustrates that the whole picture of the performance of a
company may not be reflected in a single report. When Carlos Ghosn, the CEO of both Nissan and Renault, was interviewed by the Fortune Magazine in March 2006, he only
mentioned his experience of handling the two corporations at the same time, but not anything in
relation to the declining performance. However, as disclosed in the financial data, Nissan’s performance was actually unsatisfactory, which demonstrated that investors should try to collect
information via various channels to avoid being distracted by incomprehensive information.
Nissan’s declining performance reveals one more question: how could a servant serve more than
one master at the same time? Despite his strong experience in management, Carlos Ghosn confessed that he was facing the problem of not being able to access all information due to lack
of time. The issue of how to maintain a balance & avoid conflict of interest when serving two
masters whose business scopes are similar at the same time. Secondly, serving two masters may
hamper one’s efficiency and performance. In respect of these difficulties, Carlos Ghosn’s experience is a good lesson for every manager.
The aforementioned alliance is a strategy adopted by corporations to boost their declining
business performance. Apart from this, corporations might restructure by merging or forming
alliances to facilitate further development. An instance of this is Cathay Pacific’s recent attempt to exchange its own shares for Air China’s equity of Dragon Air, which resulted in Dragon Air being Cathay Pacific’s wholly-owned subsidiary. The restructuring may help Cathay Pacific to explore the mainland market with Dragon Air’s network. On the other hand, Air China may exert greater influence in different airline alliances as well as expand its international airline
The fact that corporations under different circumstances may try to gain greater profits by
restructuring is clearly manifested by these examples. The former example demonstrates that
under-performing corporations may come together so that they can retain profitability. The latter
illustrates that restructuring may be adopted by well-performing firms to explore business
opportunities. Previous experience suggested that the latter had a much greater likelihood of
success. It can be forecasted that the alliance comprised of under-performing firms would face a
great difficulty in the future.
Writer: Lau Hong Yiu Howard
Summer Clerk, K. C. Ho & Fong
Date: 31st July 2006
Brief Resume of Writer:
Lau Hong Yiu, Howard, a Year 4 student of BBA(LAW) in the University of Hong Kong,
currently serving as a summer clerk in K. C. Ho & Fong. Besides utilizing legal knowledge
obtained at school, the chance to learn practical skill of research and analysis in relation to
different types of corporate strategies is also provided through the comprehensive training given.