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Web-only Exclusives
November 30, 2000

From Our Correspondent: Hirohito and the War
A conversation with biographer Herbert Bix

From Our Correspondent: A Rough Road Ahead
Bad news for the Philippines - and some others

From Our Correspondent: Making Enemies
Indonesia needs friends. So why is it picking fights?

Asiaweek Time Asia Now Asiaweek story

NO ACCIDENTAL TOURISTS

Foreign bosses bring many advantages

By Murakami Mutsuko/Tokyo, Laxmi Nakarmi/Seoul and Julian Gearing/Bangkok


Finding Gold Amongst the Ruins

Who Are These Guys?: Some of the Big Players in the Asian Assets Game

How To Buy Asia, And Win

When The Law Is An Asset

"CONGRATULATIONS, YOU NOW REPORT to a suit in New York." As international investors buy up the region's troubled companies, more and more Asians may find themselves employed by foreigners - in every sense of the word. Sure, the time difference with U.S. or European headquarters will be annoying, and the vocabulary as well as the cultural differences can be confusing. But having new guys in charge would certainly be better than foreclosure or joining the jobless queue. Besides, new bosses or shareholders can bring a more international outlook, greater professionalism and advanced expertise.

The change in corporate culture can have other pluses. In January, four months after Tokyo's Japan Leasing went bankrupt, America's GE Capital purchased half the business. Employees - GE took on 80% (about 1,300 people) of Japan Leasing's staff - worried about cultural clashes with their new American boss. But now? "Morale is high," says Okuno Yoshihiko, a court-appointed administrator. "Rather than thinking they belong to a bankrupt company, workers feel they were chosen as partners by GE Capital." Younger staffers of Japan's leading computer and industrial machinery rental firm are excited by their new prospects. Women especially were amazed and encouraged seeing female members on the American firm's due-diligence team working on an equal basis with the men, Okuno says.

A new boss who may know what he is doing might not be unwelcome when the old one didn't always have a clue. Seoul Securities in South Korea was purchased by the man many Asians see as the ultimate foreign devil: financier George Soros. "There is a lot of hype about Soros and the people he is bringing in," says an analyst working at the brokerage. But the fact remains that the old management got involved with risky derivative deals they did not fully understand, and crippled the company when the Crisis sent their position deep into the red. "From that perspective, the firm made a good decision to sell part of the company to foreigners," the Seoul Securities employee says. "This will improve governance and compliance to international standards, and eventually improve the quality of the company's management."

But what if your new foreign creditor takes your property? There might still be ways to gain. The U.S. finance company that bought Thai developer Somchai Preeyaporn's business loan will put up the money to finish his uncompleted Hua Hin sea front development, auction it off, and wipe out his debt. Not only does the deal get Somchai out from under unpayable debt, he could also benefit in other ways. He owns property on either side of the unfinished structure which will gain in value with the project's completion. Not everyone will learn to love their buyout brethren, but foreign capital will help many Asians wipe the losses clean and move forward.


This edition's table of contents | Asiaweek home

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