All industry analysts will no doubt be aware of Chinese companies’ ongoing overseas shopping spree, with the latest story being Sanpower’s proposed acquisition of the British-based House of Fraser department store. While Chinese consumers appear to be the global growth drivers of luxury goods, Chinese companies and private investors are eyeing up foreign targets and buying their assets. Like it or loathe it, the hungry and thirsty Chinese dragon is coming.
These Chinese acquirers take various forms, for example sovereign wealth fund corporations, state-owned conglomerates, wealthy private entrepreneurs and publicly-listed companies. All are armed with substantial foreign reserves which have been accumulated during three decades of strong domestic economic development and they are eager to strengthen their domestic positions as well as expand internationally. In 2014, China’s gross national savings will be close to US$5 trillion, while US savings will be only US$3 trillion. The industries in which they are interested include natural resources, automobiles, real estate, banking, retail and agribusiness. Today’s list is long but tomorrow’s could be even longer.
Financially, China is the US’ largest creditor, with the majority of investment in one single currency generally being seen as a risk. Understandingly, China and Chinese companies are keen to spread the known financial risks and balance their assets in a basket of currencies and geographies. They just need to find the right targets in the right continents.