China now has £ 143bn in UK assets, from nuclear power to pubs and schools
Chinese investors have amassed nearly £ 134 billion in assets in key UK industries, ranging from energy companies and transport hubs to breweries and schools.
Nearly 200 UK companies are either controlled by groups or individuals based in China and Hong Kong or count them as minority shareholders, according to an analysis of trade data.
The list of investments drawn up by the Sunday Times includes Hinkley Point C nuclear power station, Heathrow Airport, Northumbrian Water, advertising retailer Greene King and Superdrug.
It reveals that Chinese investors hold nearly £ 57bn of shares in the UK’s 100 largest listed companies, dominated by a 49% stake in HSBC worth £ 45bn. Investments valued at over £ 1 billion have also been made in pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca, oil and gas companies Shell and BP and alcohol company Diageo.
Other investments include at least 17 independent schools, Lotus Cars, Barnsley, Wolverhampton Wanderers and Manchester City football clubs, UCI Cineworld and Odeon cinemas, the QHotels group and the Skyscanner travel website.
Chinese companies have also invested heavily in real estate such as the £ 1.35 billion Walkie Talkie building in central London and the Royal Albert Dock in Liverpool, 40% of which has been bought by the company from CITIC public investment in 2015.
Meanwhile, sovereign wealth fund China Investment Corporation (CIC) has built a portfolio comprising a 10% stake in Heathrow Airport valued at £ 1.65bn, a 49% stake (1.37bn sterling) in oil and gas company Neptune Energy, a 9% stake (£ 1.2 billion) in Thames Water and a 90% stake in logistics and warehousing company Logicor (9.7 billion pounds sterling).
Serious concerns have been raised about the security implications of China’s investment in British assets, especially with regard to the Hinkley Point nuclear power plant, which is owned by French energy company EDF.
In 2016, Theresa May’s government briefly suspended the project before setting new terms on the £ 18bn deal. Nick Timothy, one of Ms May’s chief advisers, warned that China “could use its role to build up weaknesses in computer systems that will allow them to shut down British energy production at will.”
China General Nuclear Power owns a 33.5% stake in the plant, which is owned by the French public energy company EDF.