WASHINGTON — As China’s economy shifts away from producer model to one driven increasingly by household consumption, its appetite for foreign acquisitions changed too. Brand and technology rather than energy and commodity are now more favored by China’s outbound investments.
Chinese companies have been buying up natural resources over the last decade, pouring some $139 billion into the traditional energy industry, according to Bloomberg. However, the trend shifted in recent years.
The year 2014 marked a turning point when Chinese outbound merge and acquisition (M&A) in technology-related sectors, including the internet and software, semiconductors, telecom, aviation, and electronics, reached parity with traditional energy investments, according to a recent analysis by Macro Polo, an in-house think tank of the Paulson Institute at the University of Chicago.
By 2016, China’s annual outbound M&A in energy had dropped to just $2.8 billion, compared with $30 billion in 2012, data from Bloomberg’s China Deal Watch showed.
While investments in traditional energy and commodity areas have been declining, investments in internet and software sectors are skyrocketing. China’s outbound M&A in internet and software totaled $26.7 billion in 2016.
China’s Tencent bought a 5 percent stake in US electric carmaker Tesla for $1.78 billion in March, the latest attempt of the Chinese tech giant to get into the potentially lucrative market for self-driving vehicles and related services.
While State-owned companies were the major driving force behind China’s outbound investment spree before 2013, Bloomberg data showed that private Chinese entrepreneurs are now more active players, buying assets from Italian football teams to US citizen film studios.