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Chinese acquisitions in Europe up 40 percent on last year

By Angus McNeice in London | | Updated: 2016-12-02 00:20

Chinese dealmakers have completed 170 European acquisitions worth $90 billion so far this year, according to analysis by UK business advisory firm Deloitte.

That is 40 percent up on 2015 when 122 deals were finalized. Deloitte's analysis, which covers the period to November 22, did not include last month's announcement that Chinese online travel company Ctrip was buying UK-based travel search company Skyscanner for $1.75 billion.

Not counting the Skyscanner deal, acquisitions in 2016 were worth $88.4 billion.

"I think there's a strong view from Chinese business that they need to internationalize, with less reliance purely on domestic markets," said Angus Knowles-Cutler, China Services Group Chairman for Deloitte.

"Skyscanner is the classic kind of deal that ticks most of the boxes," he told China Daily. "It's the Chinese buying an e-commerce business in the UK, with strong management that it will leave in place and that serves a Chinese middle class spending money on travel."

Deloitte found that Germany attracted the biggest number of acquisitions by Chinese companies, with 34 deals. The UK was second with 32, then France with 21.

The average disclosed deal value was $900 million, or $350 million if the mega-deal involving ChemChina's $43 billion takeover of Swiss pesticides and seeds group Syngenta was excluded.

Chinese companies looked mainly to the UK to acquire stakes in financial services and the leisure industry, in particular hotels and football clubs, while they looked to Germany to invest in hi-tech manufacturing.

Knowles-Cutler predicted a strong 2017 in terms of investment, with increased emphasis on e-commerce. He said that the UK referendum vote to leave European Union has not on balance acted as a deterrent among Chinese investors.

"I've spoken to about 25 major Chinese businesses over the last couple of months since Brexit," he said. "I would say overall there's a net positive among Chinese businesses about Brexit. Sterling has depreciated in value, assets and investment opportunities are cheaper for investors."

Knowles-Cutler said that Chinese investors will be looking for reassurances from the UK government that the "Golden Era" of relations with China, inaugurated by former Prime Minister David Cameron and President Xi Jinping, would move forward.

"I think they are positive about the new government's attitudes toward China," he said. "They took great heart from the last Prime Minister's agreement on the Golden Era and they'll be looking to see if that attitude is going to continue."

The number of Chinese deals in Europe this year massively outdoes the 52 deals and disclosed deal value of $8.2 billion achieved by European acquirers in China.

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