From blood plasma to robot bartenders: 10 things China is buying this year

An unprecedented $234 billion of overseas purchases have been announced so far this year—nearly triple the amount during the same period in 2015


Photo: Reuters
Photo: Reuters

Chinese companies have been on a record acquisition spree, buying into everything from blood plasma to airline food. An unprecedented $234 billion of overseas purchases have been announced so far this year—nearly triple the amount during the same period in 2015.

Here are ten of the more surprising things Chinese money is buying around the world.

Robot bartenders

Chinese home appliance maker Midea Group Co. agreed in May to the $4.5 billion purchase of Kuka AG, a German maker of industrial robots so nimble they’ve been used to mix cocktails on cruise ships. Kuka machinery also assembles Audi sedans and Airbus jets.

Clash of Clans

Tencent Holdings Ltd, the Chinese tech powerhouse led by billionaire Pony Ma, is making the biggest acquisition Finland has ever seen as it seeks to build up its universe of entertainment content. In June, Tencent said it will lead an $8.6 billion takeover of Supercell Oy, the Helsinki developer behind popular mobile games Clash of Clans and Clash Royale.

Lexmark inkjet printers

Chinese investors swooped in on Lexmark International Inc. after the US printer maker reported years of falling sales as it battled cheap ink refills and customers switched to digital documents. Apex Technology Co., a Shenzhen-listed maker of toner-cartridge parts, and PAG Asia Capital led a group in April that agreed to buy the Lexington, Kentucky-based company for $2.5 billion.

Blood plasma

Chinese drugmaker Creat Group Corp. agreed in May to spend $1.2 billion to buy Bio Products Laboratory Ltd, a supplier of blood plasma products that’s been around for more than six decades. UK-based BPL processes more than 650 tonnes of blood plasma annually from American donors and supplies its products to more than 45 international markets.

Delta airplane food

Soon you can blame China if you don’t like the food on your Delta Air Lines Inc. flight. HNA Group Co. agreed in April to acquire airline caterer Gategroup Holding AG for about $1.5 billion, putting the Chinese company in charge of your meal if you’re flying Delta, United Airlines Inc. or Emirates. Frequent flyers should take note that HNA could also be carrying their luggage after it bought baggage handler Swissport International Ltd in February.

Online bingo

Billionaire Shi Yuzhu came up with a solution for Chinese gamers who find Vegas out of reach. A consortium led by Shi’s Shanghai Giant Network Technology Co. announced a $4.4 billion deal in July to acquire Playtika Ltd, which operates casino-style online games such as Bingo Blitz and Caesars Slots.

A lot of planes

HNA—based on Hainan, a tropical island known as the Hawaii of China—has averaged more than two acquisitions a month in the past year as the Chinese company expands its global aviation empire. One of its latest targets is CIT Group Inc.’s $10 billion plane-leasing business. The purchase will help HNA create the world’s third-largest aircraft lessor, with 910 planes valued at more than $43 billion.

AC Milan

China’s own national team may be 83rd in the world football ranking (just behind Antigua and Barbuda), but the country has been buying entry into the European leagues. A little-known Chinese investor group sealed an $830 million deal in September for Silvio Berlusconi’s famed AC Milan club, following the purchase of cross-town rival Inter Milan last year by another Chinese company. The takeover of the Rossoneri became controversial after questions were raised on the authenticity of the Chinese group’s bank documents.

A heap of garbage

Beijing Enterprises Holdings Ltd, which sells everything from beer to energy, is proving that one company’s trash is another’s treasure. The state-controlled conglomerate said in February it will buy EEW Energy From Waste GmbH, which incinerates garbage to generate power, for $1.6 billion. The deal is the biggest Chinese direct investment in a German company to date.

“So You Think You Can Dance”

Chinese property tycoon Wang Jianlin, who bought the producer of the Godzilla and Dark Knight film franchises earlier this year, is now expanding his influence into American television. Wang’s Dalian Wanda Group Co. said this month it will spend $1 billion to buy Dick Clark Productions Inc., the studio behind the Miss America competition and the hit show So You Think You Can Dance. Bloomberg

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