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Germany plans further curbs against Chinese investors

Germany is planning to further toughen rules against how much non-EU countries, such as China, can invest in critical companies, including infrastructure. Also the shipping industry puts pressure on the EU.

Photo: PR-foto/Hamburg Hafen Marketing Association

Germany believes that the EU should introduce a clear threshold for how much non-EU countries such as China can invest in critical EU-based companies such as infrastructure.

China has already invested in ports like Piraeus in Greece and Zeebrügge in Belgium, and the shipping industry has also flagged to the EU that there may be unfair competition as the Chinese investments are usually made by state-owned companies.

The debate is about looking further into non-EU countries that plan to invest in Europe and also about how curbs can be introduced. And Peter Altmaier, German minister of economy, introduces a proposal to lower the threshold for when the EU can veto an acquisition.

"Up until now, the EU has been able to veto a foreign bid if the stake reaches 25 percent. Now the barrier can be brought down to 15 percent.

"Up until today we can act at a 25 percent stake. We want to bring down that barrier," says the minister to the German news service Die Welt.

According to a draft rule, the minister must, according to Die Welt, be able to "take action when a non-EU investor acquires at least 15 percent of the voting rights."

The European Shipping industry has closely followed acquisitions of maritime companies, state-owned in particular, made by Chinese Cosco. In the EU the concern that China may take over or influence companies of strategic defense interests has made politicians come forward.

The most active politicians are from Germany, and not long ago, the EU's largest economy vetoed a Chinese acquisition. Last week, the German government vetoed the acquisition of the German-based Leifeld Metal Spinning by Chinese Yantai Taihai Corporation. However, the veto was not finally used, as Yantal withdrew its bid.

According to the news service, AFP, China invested USD 13.7 billion dollar in Germany last year, according to a report from the consultancy firm EY.

Read the article (in German) from Die Welt here.

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