Chinese 100 yuan bills and US hundred dollar bills.
Stuttgart/Beijing – Chinese investors bought fewer companies or company shares in Europe last year. There were 139 of them in total, 16 less than the year before. According to the DPA agency, this results from an analysis by the consulting company EY. The authors of the analysis estimate the value of the transactions to be 4.3 billion dollars (almost 96 billion CZK), which is a year-on-year decrease of almost two-thirds. The amount of closed transactions is not disclosed.
The degree of Chinese restraint is particularly clear in a longer-term comparison with the record year 2016. At that time, EY counted 309 acquisitions of companies or investments by Chinese investors in Europe in a total volume of 86 billion euros. The biggest deal in Germany seven years ago was the purchase of the Augsburg robot manufacturer Kuka by the Chinese group Midea, which alone cost an estimated $4.7 billion. Since then, the numbers have been falling almost continuously, and takeovers of German companies by Chinese investors are also rare in Germany nowadays. According to EY, there were only 26 Chinese takeovers or investments in German companies last year for just under $290 million. EY data suggests that Chinese buyers are now avoiding politically controversial big purchases.
In addition to political obstacles and tensions between China and the West, strict coronavirus restrictions in China, which have now ended, also played a role, according to EY. Travel restrictions and strict quarantine rules have made transactions difficult, said Sun I, who handles the firm's Chinese business in Western Europe. This year, according to her, she will look for candidates to take over more Chinese companies in Europe. “However, the number of deals will continue to be significantly lower than in the boom years, not least because of the political environment,” Sun predicted.
The German government is preparing a new China strategy. Dependence on China is to be reduced. In the autumn, under pressure from Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD), the cabinet decided that the Chinese group Cosco can take a 24.9 percent stake in the terminal in the port of Hamburg – instead of the planned 35 percent. Several ministers wanted to completely ban Chinese participation.
The idea that Chinese money represents an easy path to economic growth is also being abandoned by the countries of Central and Eastern Europe. Beijing's attitude towards Russia's war against Ukraine also contributes to this development.