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China to limit overseas investments in real estate, sports clubs

Xinhua | Updated: 2017-08-19 10:15

BEIJING — China will limit overseas investments by domestic companies in fields including real estate and sports clubs, while encouraging them to invest in infrastructure and new technology.

Overseas investments in areas including real estate, hotels, cinemas, the entertainment industry, and sports clubs will be limited, while investments in some sectors such as gambling will be banned, according to a document released Friday by the State Council.

The document also imposed restrictions in the setup of overseas private equity funds or other investment platforms without specific projects and limited investments that do not meet technological, environmental, or safety standards of the destinations.

In the meantime, investments in line with the Belt and Road Initiative and those conducive to the country's industrial upgrade, including high-tech and advanced manufacturing industries, will be encouraged, according to the document.

Outbound investments in agriculture and fishing, oil and mining exploration, and certain areas within the service industry were also given the greenlight.

Officials should guide overseas investments according to different categories, providing support to those on the "encouraged" list, offering tips to those on the "restricted" list, while strictly managing those on the "banned" list.

The document came in response to existing issues found in outbound investments by domestic firms, including poor decision-making procedures and failure to abide by local environmental and safety standards, the National Development and Reform Commission said in a separate statement.

"Some companies have put their investment focus on fields that are not necessarily the 'real economy', such as the property sector. While these investments failed to drive economic growth, they led to increased capital outflows, which could negatively impact China's financial stability," said the country's top economic planner.

Chinese authorities have been stepping up efforts to curb aggressive overseas acquisitions by the country's ambitious dealmakers, including Dalian Wanda, HNA Group Co and Anbang Insurance Group.

Dalian Wanda, a property conglomerate, for example, has been flamboyant in purchasing foreign assets in recent years, after its renowned overseas acquisition of cinema chain AMC for $2.6 billion in 2012.

Since late 2016, government agencies have been reinforcing inspections of authenticity and regulation compliance of outbound investments in a bid to improve returns and control risks.

In the first seven months of 2017, China's non-financial outbound direct investment (ODI) dropped 44.3 percent year-on-year to $57.2 billion, official data showed.

Outbound investment in real estate, culture, sports and entertainment sectors saw substantial declines during the period, the Ministry of Commerce said.

Meanwhile, outbound investment to countries involved in the Belt and Road Initiative stood at $7.65 billion, accounting for 13.4 percent of the total ODI, up 5.7 percentage points from the same period in 2016.

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