Chinese firms are increasing presence in regions along the Belt and Road at an unprecedented pace with surging investment via mergers and acquisitions (M&As), a private report said Tuesday.
M&A deals worth 21.4 billion U.S. dollars were reached in 2017, up substantially from 1.9 billion dollars a year ago, according to a report by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). The number totaled 135, more than sixfold the year-earlier level.
"There were many overseas acquisitions that topped one billion U.S. dollars in the Belt and Road regions," said Guo Wei, transaction services partner at PwC.
In face of rising competition at home, Chinese investors moved to tap the potential of growing overseas markets.
"Firms are striving to gain a strong footing in sectors such as logistics and raw materials," Guo said.
The Belt and Road Initiative, proposed by China in 2013, aims to build trade and infrastructure networks connecting Asia with Europe and Africa based on ancient land and maritime trade routes. Analysts believe opportunities are sprouting up in those regions where public facilities still lag behind.
Guo expects the investment boom will continue this year, but with a much milder growth pace. "The increase is likely to moderate to 10 percent or 20 percent."
But globally, the value of M&As by Chinese companies dropped more than 40 percent to 121.4 billion U.S. dollars last year, partly due to tightened regulation on outbound investment.
The government has said it will limit investment in high-profile areas including real estate, cinemas, and sports clubs, while encouraging businesses to focus on high-tech sectors and the Belt and Road regions.
Despite the shrinking value, the quality of M&As by Chinese companies improved, Guo said. The report showed areas including technology, industry and consumption were favored by Chinese investors.