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Germany, most appealing European market for China: study
by Staff Writers
Frankfurt (AFP) June 13, 2012

China, already the top foreign investor in Germany last year, sees Europe's top economy as the most attractive country to invest in after the United States, a new study showed on Wednesday.

In a survey of the management of 400 medium-sized and large companies, 25 percent named Germany as one of the three most attractive investments after China itself with 61 percent and the US with 29 percent, consultants Ernst & Young said.

And with vast piles of cash at their disposal, Chinese companies are mulling a German shopping spree, the study found.

"Chinese companies' purses are full to bursting," said head of Ernst & Young's transaction advisors for Germany, Switzerland and Austria, Alexander Kron.

"For most of them, it would be no problem to finance larger-scale acquisitions with their own substantial funds," Kron said.

In addition, many listed German companies are considered undervalued and therefore priced to sell, owing to recent negative stock market developments, he argued.

Of the companies that said they planned to invest in Germany, nine percent said they were planning business acquisitions, "which is an astonishingly large number," Kron said.

A further 56 percent said they would be interested in joint ventures.

"It is to be assumed that a substantial proportion of these joint ventures will lead to the Chinese companies later raising their stakes to a majority shareholding," Kron said.

Chinese investors were primarily interested in engineering companies, with 57 percent of those surveyed saying they saw this sector as particularly attractive.

The automobile industry followed in second place with 42 percent.

The government development agency Germany Trade & Invest said in March that China was the top foreign investor in Germany in 2011, ahead of the US, Switzerland and France.

China or companies based there invested in 158 projects, while the US invested in 110, Switzerland in 91 and France in 53, GTAI said.

Among a number of recent high-profile takeovers, Chinese automotive supplier Heibei Lingyun Industrial Group Corporation agreed earlier this year to acquire Kiekert, a German maker of latch systems for cars.

And in January, Chinese construction equipment giant Sany Heavy Industry acquired Putzmeister, a German family-owned engineering firm, in what was described as one of the biggest deals in the so-called "Mittelstand" sector that makes up the backbone of the German economy.

China was guest of honour at this year's Hanover industrial trade fair, the world's biggest, in April.

With 500 firms present, China accounted for 10 percent of exhibitors, making it the largest single showcase of China's industrial technology ever outside the People's Republic.

The week-long fair was jointly opened by German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao.


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