Belt and Road M&A deals hit $494b

By OSWALD CHAN in Hong Kong | China Daily | Updated: 2017-02-16 07:37

The value of capital projects and M&A deals in seven core infrastructure sectors across the 66 economies in the Belt and Road Initiative reached nearly $494 billion in 2016 and China contributed one-third of the total value in the period, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers.

The global auditing firm may be bullish about the long-term prospects for M&A activity involving infrastructure investment in Belt and Road economies.

In its first report regarding investment across seven core infrastructure sectors in Belt and Road countries, PwC said the total capital project value had increased by 2.1 percent to $401.3 billion last year while the total M&A deal value plunged by 48.7 percent to $92.5 billion in the same period.

These infrastructure sectors involve utilities, transport, telecoms, social, construction, energy and the environment.

China registered an increase of 14 percent in average project value last year while average project value was 47 percent higher in the same period.

Since 2013, the value of invested projects across the region had registered a compound annual growth rate of 33 percent, PwC data revealed.

Gabriel Wong Yiu-wo, PwC's head of corporate finance for the Chinese mainland and Hong Kong, said: "There was a rise in project dollar value as governments battled to revive growth. However, M&A activity points to a decline in volume and dollar terms, reflecting a flight to quality and renewed focus on project economies."

Unveiled by President Xi Jinping in 2013, the Belt and Road Initiative aims to connect China with more than 65 economies through unimpeded trade and financial integration.

The total investment amount envisaged in a first phase of the Belt and Road Initiative is estimated to be roughly $240 billion.

Wong noted: "We expect that mainland investors are likely to be more prone to invest in capital projects while remaining on the sidelines at the M&A deal level. The hike in construction costs, overcapacity and downgrade of sovereign debts in 2016 also paint a bearish picture for M&A deals."

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