Xi’s Data Clampdown Spurs Novel Solution From Tim Hortons China
(Bloomberg) -- The company running the Chinese business of Canadian coffee shop chain Tim Hortons is proposing a novel solution to address Beijing’s data security concerns as it seeks to go public in the U.S. through a blank check company.
Tim Hortons China said that as part of its merger with Silver Crest Acquisition Corp. it will create an independent entity incorporated in China, which will have the “sole purpose” of safeguarding and protecting customer data. Tim Hortons China will not own any equity in the entity, called NewCo in the filing, which will provide its services back to the parent at cost.
Tim Hortons China “believes that the creation and operation of NewCo directly addresses the valid concerns highlighted by recent statements by the Cyberspace Administration of China (“CAC”) as they have been articulated to date,” it said in a filing.
The company said it will inform the CAC of its plans and made clear the agency and other regulators still need to sign off on the approach. The new data entity will be jointly owned by a Chinese citizen who lives in the country, the company said, without specifying an identity.
Under President Xi Jinping, Beijing has been stepping up scrutiny of data practices at listed companies and vowed in July to crack down on securities violations. It just proposed new regulations that require virtually any company seeking to go public abroad to get CAC approval. Many companies planning initial public offerings have been left in limbo, struggling for solutions.
Regulators have made an example of Didi Global Inc., the ride-hailing giant that went public in June, just ahead of the proposed rules. The CAC said it found serious violations in the way the company collected and used personal information.
Didi is weighing giving up control over its most valuable data as part of efforts to resolve a regulatory probe into its controversial IPO in the U.S., Bloomberg News reported. More broadly, China’s government has proposed creating a joint venture with internet firms that would oversee corporate information, Bloomberg News has reported.
The concept proposed by Tim Hortons China could provide a simpler solution for companies seeking to go public. They could separate out their data and likely would partner with a state-backed entity to manage it.
Tim Hortons China is a joint venture between Restaurant Brands International Inc., owner of the coffee chain brand, and private equity firm Cartesian Capital Group. Other investors include Sequoia Capital China and Chinese internet giant Tencent Holdings Ltd.
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