Leading Chinese firms eye Israeli technology investments

Leading Chinese companies are looking for investments in Israeli technology to help boost their growth and development, similar to what US companies have done in the past two decades. A delegation of senior Chinese business leaders visited Israel last month in search of opportunities, pressing ahead with the trip despite rockets that fell in the commercial centre of the country during fighting with Gaza militants.


The delegation, led by Ronnie Chan, chairman of investment holding company Hang Lung Group, included the heads of Lenovo Group, China’s top grains trader COFCO, investment banking and private equity firm Hina Group, China Merchants Bank and JP Morgan Chase in China.


Chan noted that many technologies in applications and products from companies such as Google and Intel originated in Israel, and Chinese companies would like to explore similar ventures. “The sky is the limit,” Chan told Reuters. “Some companies can set up research and development centres here, some can bring Israeli companies to China, some can open up the Chinese market for Israeli companies. I have no idea where this will lead.”


Chan, a property magnate, said his family business owns technology companies around the world but has no investments in Israel. Lenovo’s operations in Israel had been limited to sales and support, but the company recently made its first technology investment, for an undisclosed amount, in venture capital firm Vertex.


“Definitely we are interested in Israel’s technology, to grow our company, to grow our business,” Chief Executive Yang Yuanqing said, adding that the investment in Vertex was just a first step. Lenovo, which is on track to become the world’s number one PC maker, is interested in information and mobile technology.


Bilateral trade between China and Israel totalled US$8 billion in 2011, according to Israel’s Foreign Ministry. Chinese have invested US$3 billion in Israeli companies to date. The biggest investment was the US$1.4 billion acquisition of 60 per cent of MA Industries, the world’s largest maker of generic crop protection chemicals, by China National Chemical Corp in late 2011


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