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AFLA’s Annual Meeting and “The Hunt for Unicorns: How Sovereign Funds are Reshaping Investment in the Digital Economy and the Regulatory Backlash it has Engendered”

Speaker: Winston Ma, Paul Downs

October 14, 2020
8:00 am-9:00 am

Zoom Event

Price: Free

The emergence of unicorns, startups with valuations in excess of $1 billion, has attracted billions of dollars of investment from sovereign wealth funds and government employee pension funds. The capital from these trillion dollar investors has not only fostered the explosive growth of the digital economy worldwide but has triggered a regulatory backlash with reverberations worldwide. Ma and Downs provide insight into the transformation of these vast funds into sophisticated investors of the digital champions of tomorrow and the regulations that now ensnare them in this hunt.

Winston Ma is an investor, attorney, author, and adjunct professor in the global digital economy. Most recently for 10 years, he was Managing Director and Head of North America Office for China Investment Corporation (CIC), China’s sovereign wealth fund. Prior to that, Mr. Ma served as the deputy head of equity capital markets at Barclays Capital, a vice president at J.P. Morgan investment banking, and a corporate lawyer at Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP. He is the author of the best-selling books including Investing in China (2006) and China’s Mobile Economy (2016). Winston was selected a 2013 Young Global Leader at the World Economic Forum and in 2014 he received the NYU Distinguished Alumni Award.

Paul Downs practiced international law for more than four decades, most recently as a partner at Hogan Lovells in New York, where he co-founded the Sovereign Investor Practice and initiated its annual Sovereign Investor Conference. He has represented sovereign investors transacting in assets globally, has spoken and published on the topic and guest lectured at Columbia and New York University law schools. He has been active in and spoken in the US and China on business regulatory issues affecting cross border investment between the two nations. Mr. Downs is a former President of the American Foreign Law Association.

Ma and Downs are co-authors of the new book The Hunt for Unicorns: How Sovereign Funds are Reshaping Investment in the Digital Economy. China and the US are home to more than 80% of the private startups with valuations exceeding $1 billion each (the “unicorns” of the title). The two nations’ rivalry for dominance in the digital economy occupies center stage in this account the role sovereign investors play in creating the tech champions of the future.


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