China looks to Germany for investment opportunities

According to a recent White & Case poll, top decision-makers at some of China's biggest companies are looking to central Europe as a site to set up shop.
And you thought Germany's star would fade after the World Cup was over.

Think again, Chinese investors apparently are smitten with the country. Germany is the number one destination for Chinese companies choosing to establish operations in Europe, according to a poll by White & Case.

When asked to rank their preferred European destinations, decision-makers at some of ChinaÆs biggest companies placed a strong emphasis on countries in the geographic and economic heart of Europe. Germany topped the list, closely followed by the Netherlands, and then France, Belgium and Italy.

More than three-quarters of respondents said they were either interested in setting up in Europe or were already there. What factors most influenced their choice of country? The respondents said they looked first at the cost of operations, then the legal infrastructure and the tax system.

"Chinese businesses face a daunting task when investing overseas for the first time," says Li Xiaoming, a partner based in White & CaseÆs Beijing office. "The jurisdiction that provides the best opportunities to maximise the value of their investments can vary tremendously, so it's important to have advisers with the right international scope."

The obvious driving force for Chinese investing in Europe is to sell Chinese goods into the European markets, but according to the poll results there are other reasons as well: acquiring management expertise and gaining
access to raw materials and technology were also mentioned as important motivations.

The sample wasn't huge -- White & Case surveyed delegates at a seminar it hosted in Beijing and Shanghai in cooperation with Loyens & Loeff and the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade, titled Overseas Business Acquisition and Expansion in Europe. The results are based on responses from 96 delegates. But for Germany it could mean that even though the World Cup-related tourism draw is over, it may still have a longer-term influx of businessmen heading its way.
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