China's TCL chairman complains of US protectionism over pending tech deal

Sijia Jiang

* Says awaiting approval for U.S. deal for 6 months

* Says had to resubmit related material after Trump assumed

office

* Says has been informed unlikely to win approval

(Adds quotes, details)

HONG KONG, April 21 (Reuters) - China's TCL Group on Friday

said U.S. protectionism is the biggest hurdle to Chinese firms

going global, and that the electronics maker had been told it

may not win approval in its bid to buy a U.S. technology firm.

"We have an acquisition deal in the U.S. It's been over half

a year. It is still not approved by the government," Chairman Li

Dongsheng said on the sidelines of an event in Hong Kong.

He did not elaborate on the deal beyond saying the target is

a high-tech company with product sales in the United States and

manufacturing in China.

"Protectionism is the biggest roadblock to Chinese

companies' internationalisation," said Li, who founded the group

that makes consumer electronics, display panels and home

appliances.

TCL is the world's third-largest maker of television sets

after South Korea's Samsung Electronics Co Ltd and

LG Electronics Inc, and is also China's

second-largest display maker.

It also ranks as the world's seventh-largest handset vendor,

known as the maker of phones for Alcatel SA and Blackberry Ltd

.

Li said the U.S. deal was "very close to approval" before

President Donald Trump assumed office, after which all

administrative reviews were frozen. TCL was then required to

resubmit all material related to the deal and was told it may

not be approved, Li said.

"(The target company) has nothing to do with military.

That's why I am unhappy they would not approve it," he said,

declining to elaborate.

He said the group is still working towards the deal and

"hoping for a miracle".

TCL was also seeking acquisitions in Israel and was looking

at over 10 potential targets, Li said.

He said the group is interested in technological companies

related to TCL's business, especially in smart manufacturing,

new materials, big data and internet applications.

TCL Corp, the group's main entity listed on the

Shenzhen stock exchange, in a statement late on Thursday said

trading in its shares would be halted from Thursday, pending an

announcement of a major plan. It did not elaborate.

(Reporting by Sijia Jiang; Writing by Anne Marie Roantree;

Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman and Christopher Cushing)