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中国企业大举进军欧洲

Chinese investors surged into EU at height of debt crisis

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核心提示:投资者在欧洲主权债务危机愈演愈烈之际纷纷撤资,但中国企业却反其道而行之,大量来自中国的资金进入那些遭受危机冲击最严重的欧元区外围国家。
中国企业大举进军欧洲
投资者在欧洲主权债务危机愈演愈烈之际纷纷撤资,但中国企业却反其道而行之,大量来自中国的资金进入那些遭受危机冲击最严重的欧元区外围国家。
德意志银行(Deutsche Bank)的数据显示,2010年,中国对欧盟的直接投资存量略高于61亿欧元,落后于印度、冰岛和尼日利亚。但到2012年年底,中国对欧投资存量已增长4倍,达到近270亿欧元。
分析师表示,这股投资热潮可以说标志着中国对外投资模式的转变。预计中国对外投资将在今后10年稳定增长。
研究中国对外投资的专家、荣鼎咨询(Rhodium Group)研究总监韩其洛(Thilo Hanemann)表示:“我们看到中国在欧洲的投资大幅增长,尤其是在债务危机最严重时期(展开并购活动)。”
“这在一定程度上是基于机会主义的收购,因为那时资产价格低廉,但也是中国对外投资的长期结构性转变,从确保获得发展中国家的自然资源,转向收购发达国家的品牌和技术。”
英国《金融时报》最近就中国在欧投资、移民和雄心的现代轨迹展开了调研。从北京到米兰、马德里、里斯本和雅典,一系列报道揭示出中国在欧洲发展规模、投资动向以及中国投资者和移民的策略——这一切全都与中国从1999年开始实施的“走出去”政策密切相关,目的是发现新市场和增强中国的经济实力。
中国对欧洲的扩张并非全都一帆风顺。当中国海外工程有限责任公司(Covec,简称中海外)赢得从华沙到德国边境的公路的建造合同时,北京方面将其誉为中国承包商在欧洲达成交易的典范。
但在中海外成本超支和屡次违反当地劳动法之后,波兰政府在2011年取消了合同,当时该项目开工还不到两年。
最令中海外感到困惑的是波兰的环境保护法。该法规定,在公路下方必须为野生动物修建隧道,还有一次要停工两周,以便让青蛙、蟾蜍和蝾螈等7种珍稀动物搬家。
这场挫折在中国商界广为流传,寓意着中国投资者在欧经商或收购时面临的法律和文化问题。然而,即便在市场动荡时期,中海外以及其他先锋企业所遭遇的困难也未影响中国在欧洲投资的信心。
中国年度对欧投资总额相比2011年和2012年的高峰期已有所下降,但欧洲各国的分析师认为,强劲的交易正在酝酿之中,同时有迹象表明,本十年期间中国对欧投资将显著增长。
中国对外投资(以及外国对华投资)的官方数据以不可靠出名,原因是政府在统计中并不计入本国企业海外子公司的大部分活动,也不试图确定投资最终流向哪里。
荣鼎咨询和传统基金会(Heritage Foundation)等独立机构记录了近年中国投资目的地的变化——从资源丰富的非洲发展中国家,转向在欧洲这样的发达世界结盟。传统基金会是一家总部位于美国、持保守立场的智库。

中国私营企业在这一转变中扮演了重要角色。德意志银行的数据显示,国有企业是中国对外投资的先锋,在2008年至2013年期间,国有企业占到中国对欧投资的78%。在国内,大型国企在电信、交通、能源和金融等行业占据主导地位。
但德意志银行的研究显示,从2011年到2013年间,中国私营企业在欧洲并购活动中的份额上升至逾30%,远远高于之前3年里的4%。
美国传统基金会编制的数据显示,中国在某一年的对外投资往往会集中于某个国家。2014年迄今,意大利是中国在欧洲最大的投资目的地,今年上半年中国对意投资大幅飙升。在70亿美元的中国对意投资存量中,近一半是在2014年作出的投资。中国对葡萄牙的投资在2011年和2014年大幅飙升。中国企业曾经有两年在英国并购活动频繁。自债务危机以来,中国对西班牙的投资逐步增长。
中国对欧投资在增长的同时仍面临多个障碍。美国保守派智库——美国企业研究所(American Enterprise Institute)学者、一个独立的中国对外投资数据库的编制者史剑道(Derek Scissors)表示:“相对于中国4万亿美元的外汇储备,中国对欧投资规模仍不是太大,因为欧洲不愿向中国出售其尖端技术,而且它也没有多少中国真正想要的其他资产。未来几年,中国对欧投资额将稳步增长,但不会取得重大突破。”
史剑道说:“中国企业正在收购2亿美元、而非2000万美元的德国企业。”
中国商务部(Ministry of Commerce)的数据显示,外国对华直接投资额去年达到1170亿美元,仍显著高于中国对外投资额(1080亿美元)。
商务部数据似乎表明,在2013年中国对外投资中,只有对欧投资额下降了,下降幅度超过15%。但该数据似乎大幅低估了实际投资流量,并且没有计入经由香港流入欧洲的投资。
只举一例就能说明官方数据的问题有多大。官方数据传统上将欧洲小国卢森堡统计为中国对欧投资的最大目的地,这是因为中国企业往往会利用卢森堡较为宽松的税收和公司结构要求,而在那里注册法人实体,进而通过这些实体向欧洲其他地区投资。
中信银行(Citic Bank)首席经济学家、研究主管廖群预计,到2017年中国对外投资存量将超过2000亿美元,其中对欧洲投资的份额将会越来越高。
中国欧盟商会(Euccc)的一项调查显示,中国企业将劳动法、人力资源成本、移民法规和“管理风格上的文化差异”视为在欧开展业务的最大障碍。
但突显未来发展趋势的一个迹象是,在已经在欧洲投资的中国企业中,绝大多数(97%)表示他们计划在今后几年加大投资。
延伸阅读:中国私人股本买家的兴起
今年7月,英国广受欢迎的餐饮连锁店PizzaExpress被出售给总部位于北京的弘毅投资(Hony Capital),这突显出有意买入欧洲资产的中国私人股本买家的兴起。
高盛(Goldman Sachs)银行家、在香港为私人股本集团提供咨询服务的伊恩•德雷顿(Iain Drayton)表示:“突然之间,欧洲越来越有兴趣了解这个新的买家群体。许多中国私人股本公司筹集了大量的资本,而且寻求将其投向亚洲以外的地方,如欧洲或美国。”
弘毅投资旗下7只基金管理着逾68亿美元的资产,它属于中国新一代本土投资公司,它们在物色它们认为自己可以协助打开国内市场的海外公司。它们这么做是在效仿国有企业,后者在过去几年先是谨慎试水,随后开始加快收购欧洲的技术和消费者品牌。
上月,总部位于上海的复星集团(Fosun)在最后一刻提交了对Club Med的竞购文件,与意大利私人股本集团Investindustrial争夺这家法国度假胜地运营商的控制权。
银行家们表示,中国私人股本集团不太可能像前些年的那些收购者那样遭遇可信度危机。
法国兴业银行(Société Générale)银行家、为复星等中国客户提供咨询服务的埃里克•迈耶(Eric Meyer)表示:“过去,中国企业做出收购决定所需的时间往往比西方企业要长,而且达不到自己引发的价格预期。现在情况不再如此。它们是真正有动力的买家。”
有政府背景的中国消费者集团——光明食品(Bright Food)曾在2010年试图收购生产饼干和雅法蛋糕(Jaffa Cakes)的英国联合饼干公司(United Biscuits),但未获成功。然而,两年后,这家总部位于上海的公司成功地以12亿英镑收购早餐麦片品牌维他麦(Weetabix)。此后该公司在欧洲的收购还包括法国葡萄酒商Diva Bordeaux。中国的房地产及娱乐集团万达(Wanda)去年斥资3亿多英镑收购了多塞特郡(Dorset)的豪华游艇制造商圣汐国际(Sunseeker International)。
德雷顿认为,这种趋势只会加强,因为中国私人股本集团将有能力支付比西方收购集团更高的出价,从而赢得竞标。(更多资讯请关注中国进出口网)
Chinese investors surged into EU at height of debt crisis


 
As investors fled Europe in the worst days of its sovereign debt crisis, China-based companies moved in the other direction and surged in, with cash flowing from China into some of the hardest-hit countries of the eurozone periphery.
In 2010, the total stock of Chinese direct investment in the EU was just over €6.1bn – less than what was held by India, Iceland or Nigeria. By the end of 2012, Chinese investment stock had quadrupled, to nearly €27bn, according to figures compiled by Deutsche Bank.
The buying spree, analysts say, was nothing short of a transformation of the model of Chinese outbound investment. It is expected to increase steadily over the next decade.
“We saw a massive spike in Chinese investment in Europe, particularly [mergers and acquisitions] during the height of the debt crisis,” says Thilo Hanemann, an expert in Chinese outbound investment and research director at Rhodium Group, a research consultancy.
“This was partly opportunistic buying because assets were cheap and partly it was a structural secular shift in Chinese outbound investment, from securing natural resources in developing countries to acquiring brands and technology in developed countries.”
The Financial Times this week investigates the modern trail of Chinese investment, migration and ambition in Europe. A series of reports from Beijing to Milan to Madrid to Lisbon to Athens reveal the scale of China’s expansion in Europe, the flow of investment and the strategies of Chinese investors and migrants caught up in a national effort – a “going out” policy in place since 1999 – to find new markets and enhance China’s economic strength.
The incursion has not been all plain sailing. When a Chinese state-owned consortium won the bid to build a road from Warsaw to the German border, the government in Beijing presented the deal as a model for Chinese contractors in Europe.
But after cost over-runs and repeated breaches of local labour law, the Polish government cancelled the contract with Covec, the Chinese consortium, in 2011 – less than two years into the project.
What befuddled the Chinese company most were Polish environmental laws requiring tunnels for wildlife to be built beneath the road and a two-week work stoppage while seven rare species of frogs, toads and newts were moved out of the way.
The disaster has become business folklore in Beijing – a parable of the legal and cultural issues Chinese investors face when trying to do business or buy companies in Europe. Still, the obstacles faced by Covec, as well as other pioneering companies, have not dented China’s confidence in European ventures even in times of turmoil.
Total annual Chinese investment in Europe has dropped somewhat from the peak years of 2011 and 2012, but analysts across the continent see robust deals in the making and signs that investment will increase significantly this decade.
Official data on Chinese outbound – and inbound – investment are notoriously unreliable because the government does not measure most activity by Chinese companies’ offshore subsidiaries and does not attempt to work out wher investment ends up.
Independent entities such as Rhodium Group and the Heritage Foundation, a conservative US-based think-tank, have chronicled a recent shift in Chinese money from resource-rich developing countries in Africa to partnerships in developed countries, including Europe.
Private Chinese enterprises are playing an important role in the transition. State-owned Chinese companies were the vanguard for China’s outward investment, with state-owned businesses accounting for 78 per cent of investment in Europe between 2008 and 2013, according to Deutsche Bank. At home, state behemoths dominate industries such as telecoms, transport, energy and finance.
But between 2011 and 2013, private companies’ share in Chinese M&A activity in the continent rose to over 30 per cent – compared to 4 per cent in the previous three years, Deutsche Bank research shows.
Investment tends to cluster in individual countries in any given year, according to data compiled by the Heritage Foundation. So far in 2014, Italy has been China’s biggest target in Europe with a surge of investment in the first half of the year. Close to half of the $7bn in total Chinese investment in Italy was made in 2014 alone. Portugal saw a jump in 2011 and in 2014. The UK has had two years of soaring Chinese activity. Since the debt crisis, Spain has experienced steady increases.
Chinese investment into Europe – while growing – still faces several obstacles. “Relative to China’s $4tn in foreign exchange reserves, the volumes are still not that large because Europe is not willing to sell China its top technologies and it doesn’t have very much else that China really wants,” said Derek Scissors, resident scholar at the conservative US think-tank, the American Enterprise Institute, and compiler of an independent database on Chinese outbound investment. “In the future, we’re probably going to see a steady increase [in Chinese investment to Europe] but no huge breakthroughs.”
“Companies are now buying $200m German companies instead of $20m ones,” Mr Scissors said.
Foreign direct investment into China, which hit $117bn last year, still significantly outstrips China outbound investment, which reached $108bn in 2013, according to China’s Ministry of Commerce data.
Those same figures suggest Europe was the only region that saw a dro in outbound Chinese investment in 2013, with a fall of more than 15 per cent. However, the data appear to significantly undercount the actual flow and do not count investment routed to Europe through Hong Kong.
In just one example of how problematic these official figures can be, they have historically counted tiny Luxembourg as the largest recipient of Chinese investment in Europe. That is because Chinese companies often choose to incorporate legal entities there to take advantage of looser tax and corporate structure requirements before using those entities to make investments elsewher in the continent.
Liao Qun, chief economist and head of research at Citic Bank, predicts China’s total outbound investment to exceed $200bn by 2017 and a growing share of that amount will be destined for Europe.
A survey by the European unio Chamber of Commerce in China found that Chinese companies rated labour laws, human resource costs, immigration rules and “cultural differences in management style” as the biggest obstacles to operating in the continent.
But in a sign of things to come, an overwhelming majority – 97 per cent – of Chinese companies that have invested in Europe said they plan to invest more in the coming years.
Rise of the Chinese private equity buyer
The sale of PizzaExpress, a popular UK restaurant chain, to Beijing-based Hony Capital in July highlights the rise of Chinese private equity buyers determined to snap up assets across Europe, writes Anne-Sylvaine Chassany.
“Suddenly there’s a growing interest in Europe to understand this new contingent of buyers,” Iain Drayton, a Hong Kong-based Goldman Sachs banker who advises private equity groups, says. “A number of Chinese private equity firms have raised large pools of capital and are looking to deploy it beyond the boundaries of Asia, into Europe or the US.”
Hony Capital, with more than $6.8bn in assets under management in seven funds, is part of a new generation of homegrown investment firms now on the look out for overseas companies they think they can help expand in their domestic market. In doing so, they are emulating state owned companies that dipped their toes first over the past years, and have since ramped up efforts to acquire technologies and consumer brands in Europe.
Last month, the Shanghai-based conglomerate Fosun submitted a last minute counterbid for Club Med, battling the Italian private equity group Investindustrial for control of the French holiday resort operator.
Chinese private equity groups are less likely to suffer from a lack of credibility than those earlier players, bankers say.
“In the past, Chinese companies tended to take longer than Western groups to make decisions on acquisitions, and would not live up to the price expectations they raised,” Eric Meyer, a Société Générale banker who has advised Chinese clients including Fosun, says. “It’s no longer the case. They are truly motivated buyers.”
State backed consumer group Bright Food sought and failed to buy United Biscuits, the UK maker of biscuits and Jaffa Cakes, in 2010. Two years later, however, the Shanghai-based company made a winning £1.2bn offer for breakfast cereal brand Weetabix. It has since added French wine merchant Diva Bordeaux to its European purchases. Chinese property and entertainment conglomerate Wanda paid more than £300m for Dorset luxury yachtmaker Sunseeker International last year.
The trend will only strengthen, according to Mr Drayton, as Chinese private equity groups will be able to pay the extra amount of money allowing them to win over western buyout groups in competitive auctions.(更多资讯请关注中国进出口网)
 

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