尽管受到了疫情的冲击,中国文旅行业的企业依然在努力利用各种资源进行“疫”后重建,包括政府的有利政策,融资机遇,IP红利以及创新的运营模式等。律师们对这些有利条件进行了分析,并为企业如何在把握机遇的同时规避潜在的法律风险提出了建议。

相比于其他行业,疫情对文旅行业的冲击尤为突出,最直观的影响莫过于人员流动限制导致无论是处于建设期还是运营期的文旅综合体项目收入锐减、成本提高。除此以外,一般情况下,文旅综合体项目的建设方、运营方对于政府方都有一定的就业、税收等方面的承诺,这些承诺的实现也会受到一定程度的影响。国枫律师事务所上海办公室合伙人袁晓东律师表示:我们能预计到,随着疫情管控常态化,影响虽然逐步减小,但仍将持续。

有利政策 力度不一

正是在这样严峻的形势下,各级政府纷纷出台了有利于文旅企业疫后重建的政策。融力天闻律师事务所合伙人许超律师介绍道:疫情期间,各级政府以及各地政府均出台了各种政策,包括但不限于税收减免、费用减免、金融支持、社保支持、劳资支持、旅游服务质量保证金暂退等一揽子政策,全力支持文旅企业战胜疫情、稳定发展。

除了这样的止血政策,许超律师还观察到,各级政府也跳出了文旅产业扶持本身,积极造血。他说道:各级政府努力保持经济的增速,全方位地保民生,让利于全民,消费者钱袋子不萎缩,包括文旅产业在内的各大产业才会逐步恢复至疫情前的状态。

然而,袁晓东律师站在文旅综合体项目的角度则指出,此类政策虽然一定程度上减轻了建设运营方的成本,但就项目本身而言并无针对性。他解释道:文旅综合体项目,尤其是大型项目的建设运营,往往是与政府方就建设、运营事项签订专项的投资协议,因此对于此类项目而言,最重要的政府支持还是体现在土地出让金、规费递延缴纳、土地租金减免、已开工项目建设期递延、整体项目开发进度调整、运营期各项指标调整或递延、专项资金支持等方面,甚至包括在必要情况下允许引入其他投资者的豁免等。目前,各地政府在这方面的支持力度各有不一。

因此,对于企业来说,除了需要密切关注政府推出的政策,以项目的具体情况为基础积极地与当地政府进行沟通也十分重要。

建立融资结构需谨慎

尽管疫情对宏观经济形势产生了一定程度的冲击,多地文旅企业依然有着丰富的融资机遇。据新华网报道,在今年6月的江苏省文化和旅游产业融资项目集中签约仪式上,共达成融资合作项目65个,总授信额391.34亿元。据中国日报网消息,同样在今年6月,湖南省文旅厅与多家驻湘金融机构签订了战略合作协议,总授信额度达到2410多亿元。

对于寻求融资的文旅企业来说,在把握这些融资机遇的同时,建立起合适的融资架构显得尤为重要。项目的投融资架构通常在政府方签署投资协议、确定投资前基本已经确定,这也是政府对于此类项目社会资本方投资能力的考察内容和基本要求。袁晓东律师说道。他指出,在确定融资架构时,有三方面因素需要考虑:

1. 政府需求

政府对于投资结构中的外资、国资组成可能有一定要求;而出于项目参与和管控的一定需求,也可能有一定比例的地方政府或地方国企的投资。

2. 项目的持续运营

袁晓东律师表示,文旅综合体项目一般都是长周期运营,投资架构以及运营管理层的稳定显得尤为重要,因此长周期的投资资金是此类项目的首选。相比之下,设定了一定业绩承诺、业绩对赌等短周期投资的投资资金是需要慎重选择的。

3. 未来融资方式的需求

在大型项目中,分期开发并且依靠项目自身形成资产以及运营收入,为未来建设提供资金以及融资支持是较为重要的。如果项目寻求金融机构融资,投资结构中投资人本身的资信、背景以及能够提供的支持是金融机构提供融资的重要参考指标,而在运营期内通过资产证券化方式融资,除考虑政策面的合规因素外,融资地域(境内外)、投资架构以及运营管理层的管理能力、持续稳定等也是重要因素。

IP的推动力

除了融资带来的资金支持,IP对于文旅企业的疫后恢复也能起到非常积极的作用。许超律师表示:“IP能够吸引高度的关注度和顾客粘度。用好热门IP,在客源引流、带动消费、带动当地产业升级、带动产业联动等层面,都具有非常积极的作用。

站在IP授权方的角度,许超律师建议道:要重点关注IP授权的多元化,在保底授权金无法保证的前提下,尽量避免独家的、排他的授权。即使是独家的排他的授权,也需要通过授权区域、授权期限或者授权品类进行多维度的控制。

对于IP采购方而言,许超律师认为,对于已经签订保底授权金的项目来说,出于短期内客流难以恢复的原因,采购方尽量争取与IP授权方协商调整保底授权金,或者调整授权费率,维持项目的正常运营。

当然,也可以从IP授权方争取新型技术手段支撑下的IP权利类型,比如5G、云计算、大数据、物联网等,将IP的现场场景运营移至线上,拓宽业务收入。许超律师补充道。

而当涉及国外品牌和IP的引进时,袁晓东律师认为最大的风险在于IP授权的确定性。他解释道:国外很多大IP其本身品牌构成可能较为复杂,品牌授权体系又各有不同,除非在相关领域有多年的从业经验和积累,否则很难对于其体系、规则有充分的了解。同时,由于涉及到跨境的品牌授权,有关知识产权的境内外不同法律规定也是需要了解的内容。

袁晓东律师建议道:无论是对于引入项目的政府方,还是作为投资运营的社会资本方,我认为都应当在对于拟引进IP本身的品牌权利体系、授权路径及授权体系在进行充分了解之后再对相关事项进行约定,避免IP授权成为双方合作的障碍。

 

For the pandemic-battered tourism and cultural industry, help is at hand in the form of policies

After being hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, companies in China’s cultural and tourism industries are striving for recovery with help from multiple sources, including favourable government policies, investment opportunities, IP value and innovative new operations. Lawyers point out the potential legal issues to consider and gives advice on avoiding them in order to ensure a full and sustainable recovery.

Compared to other industries, the country’s cultural and tourism industries have seen a relatively greater impact from the COVID-19 pandemic. The most obvious area has been the reduced revenue and increased maintenance and operating costs of venues and projects, whether they are currently operating or under construction. Additionally, the pandemic has ensured these companies are less likely to employ people or pay taxes. Yuan Xiaodong, partner of Grandway Law Firm Shanghai Office, says that although the impact will reduce as the pandemic comes under control, it is still going to last for a while.

A VARIETY OF POLICIES

Governments at different levels are issuing policies that will help cultural and tourism companies get back on their feet. “Various policies have been issued, including but not limited to tax deduction, fee deduction, financial support, social security support, labor support and temporary tourism service quality deposit refund, in order to fully support these companies,”says Xu Chao, partner at Ronley & Tenwen.

In addition to these measures to “staunch the bleeding”, Xu also sees that governments are actively ensuring the accelerated development of the economy, thereby making certain members of the public still have the wherewithal to spend on culture and tourism.

However Yuan feels that although the policies can benefit various projects, the approaches of the different governments are not consistent. These projects, especially the large ones, usually mean investment agreements between the government and the parties of construction and operation. Therefore, government support like land transferring fees, reduction or exemption of land rent, adjustment of overall project development schedule, deferment of construction period of projects already started, special fund support and exemptions for other investors if necessary, matches closer to the needs of projects and is relatively more effective. Currently, the governments’ support at this level varies,” he notes.

Therefore, companies should not only pay close attention to government policies, but more importantly, actively communicate with local governments their specific situation and actual needs of their projects.

SUITABLE FINANCING STRUCTURES NEEDED

Despite the pandemic’s hit to the broader economy, cultural and tourism companies in many places still have access to a range of financing opportunities. According to the news agency Xinhua, in June a total of 65 financing cooperation projects were signed in Jiangsu Province, with a total credit amount of 39.134 billion yuan ($5.5 billion). Also in June, the Hunan Provincial Tourism Department signed strategic cooperation agreements with multiple local financial institutions, with a total credit amount of more than 241 billion yuan, according to the China Daily.

However, having sources of funds is only half the battle won when it comes to project financing. It is also important to establish a suitable financing structure while grabbing these financing opportunities.

“The investment and financing structure of a project is usually determined before the government signs an investment agreement, which is also a basic requirement of the government for the investment ability of the social capital side of such a project,” says Yuan. He points out three factors that should be taken into account when it comes to establishing financing structures:

1. The needs of the government

The government may have certain requirements on the proportion of foreign capital and state capital in the investment structure because of the need of project participation and control. This also applies when it comes to investments by local government and local state-owned enterprises.

2. Continuous operation of project

Culture and tourism complex projects usually require long-term operations, hence the importance of the stability of investment structure and operation management. Therefore, the first choice always goes to long-term investment funds, whereas investment funds with certain performance commitments, performance bets and other short-term investments should be treated with great cautious.

3. Needs of future financing methods

In large complex projects, it is important to develop by stages and rely on the project itself to form assets and operating income to provide funds and financing support for future construction.

On one hand, if the project seeks financing from financial institutions, the investor's credit, background and support in the investment structure are important reference indicators for financial institutions to provide financing.

But, if the project enters its operation phase and seeks financing through asset securitization, financing from both home and abroad, investment structures, management capability and operational stability are important factors, in addition to compliance on the level of policies and regulations.

IP AS A DRIVING FORCE

In addition to the support brought by financing, IP can also play a very positive role in the post-epidemic recovery of cultural and tourism companies.

“IP can attract a high degree of attention and customer viscosity. Making good use of popular IP is critical to attracting customers, driving consumption, upgrading local industries, and driving industrial linkage,” says Xu.

For IP licensors, Xu suggests stressing on the diversity when it comes to authorizing. “Avoid exclusive authorization under the premise that the minimum guarantee cannot be guaranteed. If exclusive authorization has been made, multi-dimensional control is required through the authorization area, the authorization period or the authorization category.” Xu explains.

For IP purchasers, Xu believes that for projects that have already signed a minimum guarantee, the purchaser should try its best to negotiate with the IP licensor to adjust the minimum guarantee or adjust the authorization rate to maintain a sustainable operation for the project.

“Of course, new IP types supported by new technological means, such as 5G, cloud computing, big data and Internet of Things, can also be obtained from IP licensors. Revenues can be expanded, and income channels can be broadened if moving the offline presentation of IP to online platforms,” Xu further says.

When it comes to the introduction of foreign brands and IP, Yuan believes that the biggest risk lies in the understanding of IP authorization. He explains: “Many foreign big IP's own brand composition may be more complex, and the brand authorization system is different. It takes many years' experience and knowledge accumulation in related field to fully understand the system and rules. Also, as it involves cross-border brand authorization, different laws and regulations on IP both at home and abroad also need to be understood.”

Yuan also gives his advice on this issue. “For both the government party introducing the IP and the social capital party that invests and operates, I think it is important to fully understand the IP system and authorization path before agreeing upon relevant matters, so that they can avoid IP authorization becoming an obstacle to cooperation,” he says.

 

To contact the editorial team, please email ALBEditor@thomsonreuters.com.