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Tech group buys into UK firm

By Wang Mingjie in London | China Daily UK | Updated: 2017-01-17 18:27

Chinese technology company Kuang-Chi Group has become the latest Chinese firm to tap into British technological expertise, making its first major investment in the UK in a move it described as a vote of confidence in the post-Brexit economy.

Kuang-Chi, a Shenzhen-based conglomerate, announced on Monday it was investing $30 million in Dorset-based Gilo Industries Group, an aerospace technology firm that makes engines for jetpacks and unmanned aeronautical vehicles.

The deal will give the Chinese company a 40 percent stake in the engine manufacturer, with Gilo’s headquarters and manufacturing facilities remaining in the UK. The funding will come from the Kuang-Chi GCI Fund launched last year to invest $300 million in early to mid-stage global companies.

Ruopeng Liu, chairman of Kuang-Chi, said: “The UK has a very attractive atmosphere for innovation with great potential for further growth. This is only the start of Kuang-Chi’s UK investment plans.”

Liu, who has been dubbed “China’s Elon Musk”, the founder of SpaceX and Tesla, said that despite some fears surrounding Brexit, innovation is booming in the UK. Kuang-Chi has confidence in the UK market, which has a long history and a good reputation for innovation that will not fade away easily, he said.

Jeffrey Towson, a professor who teaches investment at Peking University, said: "This is a smart post-Brexit deal. Gilo gets better access to the China market and some stability in its funding. Kuang-Chi probably got a better price due to the uncertainty of the economy after Brexit."

The investment is intended to improve and further commercialize Kuang-Chi’s aviation technology and will help the company expand its business in the Asia-Pacific market and establish relationships with global market leaders across multiple industries.

This week, the company announced its second fund to invest $250m in companies developing technologies in robotics, the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence and virtual reality, with a strong focus on the UK.

Christopher Bovis, professor of business law at the Business School at the University of Hull, said Kuang-Chi’s investment in Gilo Industries is an example of a more sophisticated approach, focusing on either intellectual property gains or value chains in disruptive technologies and industrial sectors.

Gilo Industries Group was founded in 2012 and has been called “the Disneyland of engineering” for its mix of defence, commercial and recreational aviation products.

Gilo Cardozo, founder of Gilo, said: “The support from Kuang-Chi is exactly what we need to continue to expand our production capabilities and embrace exciting new manufacturing technologies to help us grow and succeed in the global marketplace.

“It is a really clear example of how international organizations look to all areas of Britain for innovation and entrepreneurship and how they can boost regional, national and global industries,” he said.

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