What does China own in Britain?

As the world's second largest economy, the fastest growing economy in the G20 and with more than a trillion dollars sitting in various sovereign wealth funds, China has quite a bit of cash to invest.

And as the chart below shows, in recent years it has begun loosening the purse strings - in 2005, the Chinese government and Chinese companies collectively invested about $17bn (£11bn) in global assets, according to The Heritage Foundation. Last year they invested almost $130bn.

That sounds like a lot of money, but in the context of global world trade or the economic output of developed economies, it is small change. For example, the total amount of money invested by China into Britain over the past nine years amounts to just 0.7% of the UK's total GDP in 2012.

Chart showing China's growing investment overseas

And Britain is one of the more popular destinations for Chinese investment. It is in the top 10 nations globally and attracts more than double the investment of any other nation in Europe. Globally, Australia comes out top, but even here Chinese investment last year equated to just 0.6% of the country's annual GDP. In developing nations, Chinese investment is more significant. In Nigeria, for example, inflows from China equated to 2% of GDP in 2012.

Charts showing the top destinations for Chinese investment globally and in Europe

Almost half of all the money invested overseas by China and Chinese companies in the past nine years went into the energy and power sector. China's demand for energy is expected to triple by 2030 so countries with abundant natural resources will continue to attract the most money from China.

Graphic showing what industries China has invested in internationally and in Britain

While more Chinese money is invested in the energy sector than in any other in Britain, China holds a number of investments elsewhere, including in Barclays Bank, BP, Diageo and Thames Water. Most are minority stakes, but it does have a controlling interest in some household names. For example, Bright Foods owns a 60% stake in Weetabix, the Wanda conglomerate owns 92% of Sunseeker boats, while Geely Automobile owns Manganese Bronze, the company that makes London taxis.

Some of the companies listed below are not British firms, but the investments shown refer to assets based in Britain. For example, last year China Investment Corporation paid Ferrovial $700m to buy a 10% stake in Heathrow airport, and paid $400m to Deutsche Bank to take a stake in the bank's London offices.

Key British companies invested in by China

Company Sector Investment % share

Source: Heritage Foundation

Barclays logo

Finance

$3.0bn

3%

BP logo

Energy

$2.0bn

1%

Weetabix logo

Agriculture

$1.9bn

60%

Talisman Energy logo

Energy

$1.5bn

49%

Apax logog

Finance

$1.0bn

2%

Thames Water logo

Agriculture

$0.9bn

9%

Other companies with Chinese investment:

Unnamed

Real estate

$1.1bn

Not known

Emerald Energy

Energy

$0.9bn

100%

Anglo-American

Metals

$0.8bn

1%

UPP Group

Real estate

$0.8bn

40%

Ferrovial

Transport

$0.7bn

10%

Songbird Estates

Real estate

$0.5bn

19%

INEOS Britain

Energy

$0.5bn

50%

Sunseeker

Transport

$0.5bn

92%

Diageo

Agriculture

$0.4bn

1%

Deutsche Bank

Real estate

$0.4bn

Not known

Unnamed

Real estate

$0.4bn

Not known

Veolia Water

Agriculture

$0.2bn

10%

Manganese Bronze

Transport

$0.2bn

100%

One Angel Square

Real estate

$0.1bn

49%

There are four other UK companies that have received monies from China, but are not included in the list as the money went into divisions based overseas. The China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOCC) invested almost $1.5bn to take a 33% stake in Tullow Oil's Ugandan operations in 2011. In 2010, CNOCC spent $270m on a 5% stake in BG's energy interests in Australia.

In 2008 and 2009, Aluminium Corporation of China (Chinalco) made two investments totalling $14.3bn in Rio Tinto to take a 12% stake in the mining giant's aluminium operations in Australia, and two years later paid another $1.4bn to Rio for a share of its steel business in Guinea.

Finally, in 2008, oil trader Sinochem paid $470m for a stake in oil and gas exploration company Soco International for a stake in its oil business in Yemen.

Download the full data from the Heritage Foundation.

More on This Story

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites

More Business stories

RSS

Features

From BBC Capital

Programmes

  • HoverboardClick Watch

    Testing the hoverboard's magnetic levitation - but will it ever replace the bicycle?

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.