China's outbound mergers and acquisitions (M&As) reached a record high in the first six months of 2011, with Asia and Europe being the top investment destinations, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) said on Monday.
According to the PwC report, there were 107 outbound transactions amounting to a total of $9.6 billion in the first half of the year, up 14 percent year-on-year.
"Outbound M&A is expected to remain robust for the remainder of the year although global turbulence could affect some existing deals in the pipeline. Such a downturn, however, could present buying opportunities for cashed-up Chinese investors," said Ken Su, a Transaction Services Partner at PwC China.
Despite market volatility and a global economic outlook that is far from certain, China remains hungry for M&A deals abroad across a wide range of industries, including machinery and equipment manufacturers and retail.
M&As in the industrial and consumer sectors nearly doubled in the first half of 2011 compared with the same period last year.
As production of Chinese goods continues to move up the value chain and the country increasingly transitions to a consumer-led economy, China is keen to acquire more technology and brands.
"Chinese companies continue to look overseas for investment opportunities and while the resource sectors will still be the focus, it is clear that other industry sectors are becoming relatively more active," Su said. "This overall trend combined with the expansion and diversification of Chinese outbound buyers should lead to further growth in outbound investment in the future."
Though Asia remains the top destination for outbound M&A with 33 deals in the first half of this year, there is a noticeable increase in Europe as an investment target with 30 announced transactions in the first half, exceeding the region's 2010 total.
In addition to the popular resources sector, the target sectors in Europe are industrials and the retail sector, according to the PwC report.
Resources tops the interest of Chinese buyers, followed by manufacturing, energy and technology.
"As China's interest in overseas assets broadens and diversifies, resource deals have become a lower proportion of overall M&A activity," Su said.
Meanwhile, Chinese enterprises are also becoming more risk-sensitive in seeking overseas M&A deals. According to Patrick Zeng, head of Financial Lines & Surety at Zurich Financial, more Chinese businesses are seeking M&A insurance before pursuing a deal.
China's domestic M&As grew 10 percent to a record level of 1,616 deals in the first half of the year while the number of inbound M&As remained broadly consistent with last year, according to the report.
"Overall strategic buyer activity in China will continue to grow steadily. This is a trend that is in line with the 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-2015)," said Roger Liu, a Transaction Services Partner at PwC China.
However, inbound M&A levels may drop as the E.U. and U.S. debt crises continue to cause economic uncertainty.
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