BUSINESS

Boosted investment data reflects renewed global interest in Spain

China’s Sinopec currently negotiating to buy Repsol’s 30-percent stake in Gas Natural Two major corporate deals announced on Thursday alone

Data published on Thursday by the Bank of Spain has confirmed a positive trend regarding foreign direct investment in Spain. Up until August, 18.757 billion euros flowed into Spanish companies from abroad, practically double the 9.418 billion euros seen in 2012, and the best figure since 2008. After discounting the 6.691 billion of Spanish investment abroad, the net amount comes in at just over 12 billion euros, a considerable increase on the 3.161 billion from the previous year.

A number of high-profile deals in recent weeks reflects the interest that foreign investors are showing in Spain right now. Investment funds linked to Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates recently bought a stake in construction firm FCC. And on Thursday news broke that Crown Holdings, a US company that makes metal beverage and food cans, is in the process of acquiring the Spanish canning firm Mivisa, in a deal worth 1.2 billion euros. Crown is planning to expand its business in Spain, should the acquisition be completed next year, as is expected.

Also on Thursday, Japanese systems integration firm NTT Data announced that it had reached an agreement to acquire the Spanish consultancy and service provider group Everis. The value of the deal has not been made public by the companies, but it is expected to be worth around 560 million euros, including debt.

Much depends on whether Repsol can line up a fresh upstream investment to boost oil production

Earlier this week, while on a visit to Spain, the CEO of the Bank of East Asia said that Chinese foreign investments were growing year after year, and that "there is still a lot left to exploit in Spain in order to attract Chinese investors." Indeed, this week representatives of the China Petrochemical Corporation (Sinopec) are in Madrid to negotiate with Repsol the possible purchase of the Spanish oil company’s 30-percent stake in Gas Natural, valued at around 52 billion euros.

The deal is far from certain as yet but Repsol CEO has said in the past that its stake in the Spanish gas supplier is no longer a strategic asset. Much depends on whether Repsol can line up a fresh upstream investment to boost its oil-producing capacity.

Representatives of the bank La Caixa are also present at the talks between Repsol and Sinopec. The Catalan-based lender is the major shareholder in Gas Natural with 34.5 percent and it also owns a 12-percent stake in Repsol.

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