Chicago, Case Study of Foreign Takeover

Chicago is in financial trouble and could be the next major metropolitan city to stand in bankruptcy court. This is not a recent condition yet in 2004, infrastructure was being sold off to raise revenue.

The Brookings Institution found that the Chicago region had more than 4,000 foreign-owned establishments that employed more than 223,000 people, according to 2011 data, the most recent available. In total employment at foreign-owned companies, Chicago ranks third in the nation, behind New York and Los Angeles.

Toll roads in Chicago are now in the ownership of Cintra, the largest private sector transportation corporation. Cintra is based in Spain and layers deep the King of Spain Juan Carlos is a player. No wonder that Michelle Obama has visited Spain twice eh?

Another move for Chicago, Al Faisal Group (one of Qatar real estate investment arms) bought the Radisson Blu Aqua hotel.

Qatar Airways announced plans to expand its U.S. service in 2014 by adding Dallas, Miami and Philadelphia to a lineup of destinations that includes Houston, Washington, New York and Chicago. And last month, Qatar said it will spend $19 billion to buy 50 Boeing 777 aircraft, part of a larger deal between the U.S. aviation company and Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.

The number of Qatari students at U.S. universities has jumped fivefold in the past decade, and the Qatari Foundation International is spending $5 million this year to encourage U.S. schools to teach Arabic. *** Qatar provided financial and political support for Islamist groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and the ruling Ennahda party in Tunisia, but it has more recently backed away from that role, especially after a military coup ousted Qatar’s allies from control of Egypt.

Then there is China and a new foothold in Chicago.

Wanda announces $900 million investment in Chicago hotel project

The Wanda Group announced on June 8 that it would invest US$900 million in the United States’ second largest city Chicago, to build the city’s third tallest building.

The Chicago site is located in the vibrant and affluent Lakeshore East development in downtown Chicago, one of the last remaining sites within the Lakeshore East area. Many of Chicago’s well-known sites and attractions are within walking distance from the site, such as the Theatre District, Museum Campus and Michigan Ave.

Wanda Group will build a 350-meter high, 89-floor skyscraper, which will have a gross floor area of 131,400 square meters. The building will also house a 240-room luxury five-star hotel as well as luxury apartments and a commercial center. The project will begin construction this year and officially open in 2018.

The Chicago project is Wanda Group’s third overseas five-star hotel project, following announcements of luxury hotel projects in London and Madrid.

“Investing in Chicago property is just Wanda’s first move into the US real estate market,” said Wanda Group Chairman Wang Jianlin, “Within a year, Wanda will invest in more five-star hotel projects in major US cities like New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco. By 2020, Wanda will have Wanda branded five-star hotels in 12-15 major world cities and build an internationally influential Chinese luxury hotel brand.” If you go to the movies, an AMC theater….China.

In January 2011 The Chicago Council on Global Affairs released the report Capturing Chicago’s Global Opportunity. The report found that although Chicago ranks as one of the top ten global cities, “it lags its global peers in the amount of inward foreign direct investment (FDI) in the city.” This was based on the 2010 PricewaterhouseCoopers Cities of Opportunity study in which Chicago scored seventeenth out of twenty-one capital market centers around the world on physical growth due to the low level of FDI. The more recent 2011 Cities of Opportunity study ranked Chicago twenty-fourth out of twenty-six cities in attracting FDI capital investments and greenfield projects.

To better understand the challenges and opportunities of FDI in Chicago and develop a comprehensive FDI strategy for the area, The Chicago Council on Global Affairs convened a group of prominent Chicago business and civic leaders that began meeting in January 2012. The study was cochaired by Michael H. Moskow, former president and chief executive officer of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago and currently vice chairman and senior fellow for the global economy at The Chicago Council on Global Affairs, and William A. Osborn, former chairman and chief executive officer of Northern Trust Corporation. After months of research, interviews, meetings on the issue and on the strategies and experiences of other major global metropolitan areas, the study group developed key recommendations to help the city reach out to foreign-owned companies and increase FDI through existing and new sources of investment.

This report presents the findings and recommendations of the study group members on how to best advance Chicago’s economic development through global engagement.

Oh, if you happen to shop for fine and distinctive jewels at Tiffany’s, well Qatar has ownership in that too. So, what foreign entity owns your company, your roads, your grocery store or has financial influence on the school your child attends?



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Denise Simon