BEIJING (TIP): The world’s second-biggest economy trounced the United States in another aspect as Chinese companies inked the highest number of overseas deals so far this year. The number of deals, mostly purchase of foreign companies, since January amounted to $110.8 billion.

In fact, Chinese firms surpassed their own full-year record in 2015 when they spent $106.8 billion on foreign acquisitions, according to UK-based data provider, Dealogic. They were engaged in 17 deals, each worth more than $1 billion, while the rest were of lesser value. Taking the cake was a $43 billion cash offer by China National Chemical Corp for purchase of Swiss pesticide and seed company Syngenta.

The US has dominated the rankings in overseas acquisitions since 2007. Dealogic predicted that China will come ahead of the US at the end of 2016.

The acquisition spree, which covers the United States, is partly driven by economic slowdown in China. the ongoing economic slowdown in China may be forcing Chinese companies to explore new avenues in overseas markets to sustain their growth, Abdul Erumban, senior economist with the Conference Board, told TOI.

Chinese companies, many of whom are flush with funds, are finding it difficult to identify suitable investment destinations in their home country. Significantly, the anti-China tirade by US politicians has done little to hamper Chinese investments in that country. Financial compilers said that Chinese companies acquired 25 firms based in the United States and Canada last year, compared to just four in 2014 and nine in 2013.

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Analysts also said that Chinese investments overseas would more than double of the 2015 record because Chinese companies are targeting more than 1,000 foreign firms for acquisition in 2016. Last year, Chinese business groups took control of 598 companies, according to the financial compiler. Drawing the most attention is the wrangling involving Chinese conglomerate Anbang Insurance Group and Marriott International, which are battling to acquire the iconic Starwood Hotels and Resorts for nearly $14 billion. Anbang upped its offer on Monday, leaving the market waiting anxiously for Marriott’s next move.


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