China Bridge: New business with old roots opens offices in Ann Arbor

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China Bridge, a business designed to help companies in the U.S. and China execute their global expansion strategies, has opened in Ann Arbor.

The company, according to President and CEO C. Peter Theut, specializes in helping American firms establish operations in China and in assisting Chinese businesses invest and enter the U.S. market. Theut, who also serves as head of Bridges International Network, the holding company for China Bridges, said his firm provides a comprehensive range of legal, financial, operational, and government relation services.

"China Bridge is a single point-of-contact for U.S. companies that seek to establish or expand their presence in China, and for Chinese companies that want to enter the U.S. markets," Theut said.

According to Theut, China Bridge offers clients experience in creating business entities and developing business plans, as well as identifying strategic partners for labor, financial, and sales and marketing initiatives.

"An important China Bridge differentiator is that we help clients develop effective strategies, help implement them, and then keep them on track to deliver ongoing success," Theut said.

Several China Bridge projects currently underway range in scale and represent diverse industries, including real estate, construction, technology, and manufacturing investment, he indicated.

"Launching China Bridge is especially timely now, given the challenges our domestic economy is facing," Theut said. "Every time we help a Chinese client enter the U.S. market, we will create jobs and generate tax revenue, and that has a strong ripple effect in local and state economies."

Theut formed China Bridge after a distinguished career with Butzel Long, where he was instrumental in the establishment of the firm's international practice. He chaired its "China Initiative" prior to his recent retirement as a partner and shareholder. Theut brings more than 45 years of international business experience, including 20 years focused primarily on China.

Jerome Hill, senior vice president/director of China Projects, and Jennifer Feng-Smith, vice president/director of Affiliate Relations, round out the current core China Bridge team. Combined, Hill and Feng-Smith bring 43 years of China and U.S. business experience to clients of China Bridge.

Hill is fluent in Mandarin Chinese, and is a longtime China business advisor and counselor. He was most recently Counsel to Butzel Long for its China Initiative and served as a member of the adjunct faculty at Oakland University. Hill is an internationally known expert in Chinese business and legal matters, and has been recognized as a "Citizen of China" by that country for his work in Guizhou province. He brings more than 25 years of China experience and specializes in legal work related to creating business entities in China; resolution of employment, labor and government issues; and repatriation of funds.

Feng-Smith, a native of China, is fluent in Mandarin, Taiwanese, and English. She has assisted dozens of Fortune 500 and 100 companies with their China entry strategies and structural planning. She has particular expertise in business development, program management, and complex, high-level contract negotiation. She formerly was a Global Trade Advisor for Butzel Long's International and China Initiatives.

"The China Bridge team is passionate about helping companies achieve their strategic goals," Theut said. "Expanding their global footprint is a key element for more and more of our clients in North America and Asia; the depth and breadth of our team's expertise allows China Bridge to provide support at a level that traditional law firms and consultants simply cannot match."

Theut added that the company is expected to soon add a chief operating officer who has extensive experience in global operations to "further differentiate" China Bridge from the "traditional model most people think of when they think about legal or other consulting-type firms."

Said Theut: "We found our clients were best served by a more comprehensive, more nimble, and cost-effective approach to issues than by the approach utilized by traditional law or consulting firms.

"We came to realize that we were able to address a broad range of client concerns in an effective and efficient manner, and recognized the need for an entirely new business model - this is the model that we've adopted for China Bridge."

As an operating subsidiary of Bridges International Network, China Bridge is the model and first of a series of "region-specific" operating companies to be rolled out over the next 48 months, Theut indicated. Expansion plans are scheduled to include Mexico, South America, India, Europe, and possibly other countries, he said.

Published: Tue, Feb 23, 2010

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