KPMG: Broaden horizons on M&As overseas

Updated: 2013-06-04 07:23

By Du Juan (China Daily)

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Chinese companies pursuing overseas expansion should widen their search for mergers and opportunities in Europe in sectors such as agriculture and design, said accounting firm KPMG.

As the world's largest energy consumer's appetite for resources grows, China's natural resource M&As have been growing in recent years, especially in North American oil and gas reserves.

However, there are still many good opportunities in Europe, which is worth attention from Chinese buyers, said Peter Fung, global chairman of KPMG's Global China Practice.

"The first group of Chinese companies to go overseas was mainly energy and resources companies and the second group is private investors in the manufacturing industry," Fung said.

"It will be a trend in the future that an increasing number of Chinese companies will look for business opportunities in other industries such as consumer goods and agriculture as domestic demand continues to grow."

As China's middle class grows rapidly, demand for products with advanced and modern designs will increase. Chinese consumers are fonder of European-style household items.

"In northern Europe, countries such as Denmark and Sweden are well-known for their characteristic designs," said Fung. "Chinese companies, especially private investors, should look for more chances for M&As or cooperation with design companies in those countries, which will be mutually beneficial."

Another sector which will attract more Chinese investors is modern agriculture and food, he said.

"As China attaches more importance to food security, the growing demand for better quality food products including milk and meat will lead to increasing outbound M&As in the sector," Fung said.

He said the Australian and New Zealand governments are discussing actively with local officials and companies how to promote diversified cooperation with Chinese companies based on their advanced agriculture industries.

On March 15, Shandong Ruyi Group, one of the top 10 textile companies in China, completed its acquisition of the Cubbie Station farm, Australia's biggest cotton producer, for A$230 million ($235 million).

The deal will help China improve the stability and quality of its cotton supplies.

According to a recent survey of around 40 top Chinese private companies' leaders, around half of them expressed an interest in modern agriculture and real estate investment opportunities abroad.

In the following three years, the top three targets for global M&A opportunities will be telecom technology, consumer goods and medical treatment, according to the survey.

Entrepreneurs can always find ways to co-exist with stronger rivals in the international market through differential strategic development modes, said Shen Nanpeng, founder and managing partner of Sequoia Capital China.

He said the domestic energy market is dominated by State-owned players, but laws and regulations in foreign countries are beneficial for China's private companies to invest overseas.

China's largest overseas M&A so far - CNOOC Ltd's purchase of Canadian energy company Nexen Inc in 2012 - caused objections in Canada due to CNOOC's State-owned nature.

Some voices in Canada suggested that the country's oil and gas resources should not be developed by foreign State-owned companies.

However, Fung said Chinese energy and mining companies will continue to make big moves in foreign M&A markets, especially in natural gas.

"Timing is crucial for M&As," he said. "The global financial crisis and the European debt crisis will continue, which will bring chances for Chinese buyers."

Fung added that Chinese companies can explore some investment opportunities in US infrastructure construction projects.

"With established laws and regulations in the US, the risks are low for such investments," he said.

(China Daily 06/04/2013 page14)