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Slight decline in M&A activity is likely

Chen Yingqun
Updated: Mar 2,2017 8:59 AM     China Daily

China’s outbound mergers and acquisitions are likely to decline slightly this year, due to the changing global environment, experts said.

Chinese companies’ interest in going overseas or acquiring companies outside of China is still very high, but the overall number and value of deals will be reduced, due to Western countries’ changing attitudes toward Chinese investment, said Edward Tse, founder and CEO of Gao Feng Advisory Co, a global strategy and management consultant.

“Chinese companies’ overseas investment will certainly be lower than the peak level in 2016, but I don’t think there is going to be dramatic drop,” he said.

Last year, China’s outbound M&A surged by 142 percent in volume and by 246 percent in value, to a record $221 billion, according to a recent report by PricewaterhouseCoopers.

A report by Rhodium Group said the European Union continues to be a favorite destination of Chinese investors, with more than 35 billion euros ($36.9 billion) of outward foreign direct investment transactions last year — an increase of 77 percent from 2015.

Germany and the United Kingdom accounted for more than half of total incoming Chinese investment last year.

The United States was the largest recipient of Chinese outbound foreign direct investment last year, with $45.6 billion in completed acquisitions and greenfield investments. However, President Donald Trump has said the US will take a tougher stance toward Chinese companies.

Joerg Wuttke, president of the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China, said that to date, EU authorities have not rejected any major investment in the EU. He said the EU is becoming increasingly worried about state intervention in international investments in its economy, and rising populism is putting pressure on decision-makers.

He said the EU member states should remain open and make sure that international investors in the EU have a predictable and transparent investment environment.

“For Chinese companies, it is important to see that their investment ideas in Europe are basically accepted and are granted in the right and proper legal setting,” he said.

Hu Tianlong, a research fellow with the International Monetary Institute of Renmin University of China, said M&A deals in technology industries worldwide will be more difficult for Chinese companies this year.