China gobbles up Europe

EU shareholders are selling out - to China

If you want to exit from a large, EU-based, multinational concern, just sell it to the Chinese. They’re buying. Everything.

In the last five years, Chinese acquisitions and investments in Europe have tripled, compared to the previous decade. China’s ‘economic imperialism’ in Africa and Latin America is widely recognized and well documented, but its forays into Europe have been more stealthy.

Published details of deals to acquire or invest in power and logistics, property and football clubs, are only the tip of the iceberg. Many private stakes have also been sold to the Chinese, who seem to have unlimited funds and state backing.

Famous brands like Volvo and Skoda have long since been lost to China, but everything from Swiss pharma to French wine and Dutch shipping now has a large Chinese investment stake, if not control.

Britain is not excluded from this flight of ownership to the east. Chinese companies and their Hong Kong proxies have demonstrated a huge appetite for London properties and UK banking.

“There is no backroom deal; everything is transparent. There is no ‘winner takes all’, but every project delivers win-win results,” said China’s foreign minister back in 2018; but not everyone is convinced.

Despite the urging of Germany and France, the EU has dithered over any formal investment screening, and perhaps this is why China funds have been streaming into Europe rather than other developed markets; there’s so little barrier to entry, and so many willing sellers!

Is this some grand plan for world domination of key economic sectors? Or is it simply that China has excess funds, and knows a buyer’s market when it sees it? Whatever the reason, it won’t just be Chinese restaurants that you see on the high street, but owners’ plaques as well.

Warning: Hazardous thinking at work

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