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更新时间:2014-10-23 11:17:46 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

European Companies Turn to Chinese Investors

FRANKFURT — Equipment made by Putzmeister has been used to help smother out-of-control nuclear reactors in Chernobyl and Fukushima, but the German company had no technology to protect it when the global economic meltdown struck in 2008.


Putzmeister, based in the town of Aichtal, south of Stuttgart, suffered more than a 50 percent plunge in revenue and had to cut its German staff of about 2,500 by roughly half. Then, a rescuer came from an unlikely place: China.


In a deal that has become emblematic of Europe’s increasing openness to Chinese investors, Sany Group, a maker of construction equipment based in Changsha in Hunan Province, bought Putzmeister in 2012.


The apparent success of the combined company since then is one reason why Premier Li Keqiang of China received a warm welcome when he visited Berlin and Hamburg this month.


“With the difficult situation in the world economy that we see at the moment, it’s a sign of stability that economic cooperation between Germany and China is developing very well,” Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany said on Oct. 10 after announcing a host of new treaties and business contracts between the two nations, including orders for Airbus planes and an extension of Volkswagen’s joint venture in China with the FAW Group Corporation until 2041.


One reason that Europeans have become more welcoming of the Chinese is that they need the help. Economic growth is weak, the population is aging, and business investment is tepid. Besides money, Chinese investors help European companies get better access to China and other Asian markets.


Partly as a result, Europe has surpassed the United States as China’s largest trading partner, and Europeans appear to be eager for more. “I think it’s fair to say Europe is welcoming Chinese investment,” said Jeremy Clegg, a professor at Leeds University Business School in Britain who has studied the subject.

这在一定程度上是欧洲超过美国成为中国最大贸易伙伴的原因,而欧洲人似乎希望更进一步。“可以说,欧洲正在欢迎中国的投资,”研究过这一课题的英国利兹大学商学院(Leeds University Business School)教授杰里米·克莱格(Jeremy Clegg)说。

Another reason the Chinese are welcome is that, at least so far, they have proved to be unobtrusive, almost invisible, managers. At Putzmeister’s main plant in Aichtal, there is just one Chinese executive and five Chinese trainees, said Uwe Misselbeck, the company’s head of human resources.

中国人受欢迎的另一个原因是,至少到目前为止,事实证明他们是比较低调、几乎隐形的企管人士。普茨迈斯特人力资源主管乌韦·米赛尔拜克(Uwe Misselbeck)表示,在该公司位于埃尔西塔的主厂区,只有一名中国管理人员和五名中国见习员工。

“We’re still eating with knives and forks,” Mr. Misselbeck said last month at an event in Frankfurt organized by consulting firm KPMG before Mr. Li’s visit. The session was part of a campaign to counter lingering stereotypes about Chinese owners.


Putzmeister specializes in equipment to pump concrete at construction sites, which was used to contain nuclear radiation at Chernobyl in 1986, in what is now Ukraine, and to pump massive amounts of water to cool the malfunctioning reactor at Fukushima, Japan, in 2011.


“The Chinese colleagues treated us very cordially,” Mr. Misselbeck said of the takeover by Sany. He compared them favorably with investors from the United States, “who want to tell you how the world works.”


The United States remains by far the largest source of direct investment in Europe, accounting for more than one third of the total in 2012, the most recent year for which complete information is available. That compared to a 2.6 percent share for China.


But investment from China has grown at a much faster rate than that from any other country. The value of Chinese holdings in the European Union more than quadrupled from 2010 to 2012, to 26.8 billion euros, or $34 billion at current exchange rates, according to Eurostat, the official statistics agency.


Chinese companies have invested in ports in Genoa and Naples in Italy and in Athens. They have bought Italian makers of steel products, German manufacturers of patio furniture, and Hungarian chemical producers. Hamburg, which hosted Mr. Li on Oct. 11 at a “China Meets Europe” meeting, has more than 500 Chinese companies in the city and surrounding area, according to the local chamber of commerce.


And investment from China could get a further boost as the Chinese government streamlines the approval process that domestic companies must go through before they invest abroad, according to KPMG.


Chinese investors have also drawn attention with a number of high-profile deals and their willingness to buy troubled companies. One of the most attention-getting acquisitions was in 2010 when Zhejiang Geely Holding bought Volvo Cars from Ford Motor.

中国投资商开展了很多备受瞩目的交易,而且愿意购买陷入困境的公司,他们因此获得关注。浙江吉利控股集团于2010年从福特汽车(Ford Motor)手中收购了沃尔沃汽车公司(Volvo Cars),这是最受关注的收购案之一。

In August, when Volvo unveiled its first completely new model under Chinese ownership at an event in Stockholm, the Chinese presence was so discreet it was invisible. No Chinese executives appeared. Volvo executives presented the new car, a sport utility vehicle called the XC90, as the embodiment of Swedish aesthetics and engineering.


Hakan Samuelsson, the chief executive of Volvo Cars, implied that the company had more freedom under Geely’s ownership than under Ford.

沃尔沃汽车公司首席执行官哈坎·萨缪尔森(Hakan Samuelsson)暗示,与福特相比,公司归吉利所有后拥有更多自由。

“They have given us a new role as a stand-alone company,” Mr. Samuelsson said of Geely during a meeting with a small group of journalists. “We are not a sort of division executing commands from some center.”


In an example of how Chinese ownership can open up new markets for European companies, China has become the largest market for Volvo Cars. The top-of-the-line XC90 will be built in Sweden, but other Volvo models are already being manufactured in China and the company is considering exporting some of the Chinese-made models to the United States.