Harnessing Potential of Joint Ventures

The Birmingham Post (England), March 24, 2007 | Go to article overview

Harnessing Potential of Joint Ventures


Byline: By Helen Flear Emerging Markets director PricewaterhouseCoopers

Historically, many businesses have used joint ventures to gain entry into emerging markets where restrictions on foreign investors meant they were often the only way that a business could expand into different countries.

But as global attitudes towards foreign ownership become more relaxed companies now need to consider carefully whether that is still the best option.

Joint ventures can undoubtedly provide competitive advantages.

They enable companies to tap into existing resources and offer relatively easy access to local know-how, established distribution networks, local contacts and relationships. By avoiding the negative reactions that an outright acquisition may provoke, joint ventures can also ensure a company has access to and retains intangible assets such as contact networks and individual labour skills.

In addition, they can resolve the issues created by the protectionist sentiment that often restricts foreign investment in a country. A joint venture can provide a foothold in markets such as India, where the trend is towards greater liberalisation, but 100 per cent foreign ownership, is still prohibited in some sectors.

Joint ventures are not, however, without disadvantages.

The existence of joint ventures as an operating model may be well established, but they can result in a clash of management styles, can limit strategic flexibility and can make even basic decision-making laborious.

UK-based companies that embark on joint ventures with companies operating in emerging markets also have to be aware of any vulnerability regarding corporate governance - your new partner's standards may not be as professional as yours - and the protection of their intellectual property. …

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