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Schemes to expand mainland investment
( 2003-11-04 10:58) (China Daily HK Edition)

Some large foreign players, buoyed by the enormous potential in the mainland market, will expand investment over the next few years.

Metro AG, the world's fifth-largest retailer, said yesterday it would spend 600 million euros (US$697 million) to open 40 new stores in the mainland in the next five years.

"We are in a start-up phase in China, so we are strongly investing and expanding," said Chief Executive Hans-Joachim Koerber at a media briefing yesterday.

The German-based retailer set foot in the country's retail market in 1996 but has not made any profits.

"As a country, it will take another two to three years to become profitable...start-up losses are normal," Koerber said.

The Chinese retail market generated 2.78 trillion yuan (US$336 billion) in annual revenues last year and is expected to grow at 9-10 per cent this year.

"China has huge growth potential and it is progressing rapidly," said Koerber, "we intend to go for market share and volume and, so far, we have been satisfied."

Metro reaped sales of 583 million euros in China last year, accounting for 1.13 per cent of the firm's total of 51.5 billion euros (US$59.9 billion).

The company now operates 18 outlets in the country and aims to open three wholesale stores in Beijing within two years.

Also yesterday, BP, the world's third-biggest oil company, said it would increase spending in Guangdong Province.

"There is a huge industrial cluster in Guangdong, which means that polyester will be in demand for the foreseeable future," Byron Grote, managing director & chief financial officer, told reporters at a press conference on Guangdong Investment Environment.

"BP does have new plans for investment here in the Zhuhai plant, which will be reflected in the second phase of investment. That will expand its capacity from the current 350,000 tons to 1 million tons annually," he added, without giving further details.

The oil major currently owns 30 per cent in China's first liquefied natural gas project in Guangdong and won the contract to build the project.

BP also reportedly plans to double its investment in gas pipeline projects in the province over the next five years. The company has already poured US$1 billion into Guangdong.

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