Business

What does China own in Britain?

  • 14 October 2013
  • From the section Business

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Related Internet links

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