Lisbon, Portugal, 15 Nov – Portuguese banks and companies with significant interests in countries such as Angola and Brazil have been chosen by Chinese capital for a wave of investments, following the visit to Portugal by President Hu Jintao.
According to the director of Portuguese newspaper Diário Económico, António Costa, ´the announced investments in Millennium bcp, Banco BPI and EDP – Energias de Portugal are not explained by the size of the Portuguese market or the dynamism of its economy, but rather by the privileged relationship of its biggest companies with important commercial partners such as Brazil and Angola.
The investment, he wrote last week in a editorial, is explained “almost exclusively by the position and negotiating capacity of Portugal and the Portuguese companies in Africa and in Brazil, two markets in which China is positioning itself.”
“Note the cases of EDP and BCP, two of the biggest national companies that are already in Africa, and here Angola is the most significant market, and in Brazil. And lets also look at whether Galp Energia will not be another target for the Chinese,” Costa said.
EDP has an important subsidiary in Brazil, Millennium bcp has a significant operation in Mozambique and the BPI bank controls the largest private Angolan bank, Banco de Fomento de Angola (BFA).
According to Costa, with Beijing’s interest, “Portugal stops being, almost by magic, a peripheral country and is once again the centre of the world for a China that is gigantic from an economic point of view,” and needs a “relevant ally for its interests,” included in its political and diplomatic plans.
According to analyst Miguel Monjardino, China plans, “above all to boost its options for economic integration into Europe,” a “significant part of its current strategy.”
“Beijing’s presence in Europe’s financial and industrial sectors is becoming increasingly visible. Hu Jintao’s visit to Portugal shows that Portugal will become part of this Chinese policy. Investments in benchmark national companies are on their way,” the analyst wrote last week.
In Lisbon, President Hu Jintao showed his support for Portugal saying that China was, “willing to support, via concrete measures, Portuguese efforts to deal with the impact of the international financial crisis.”
Beijing also plans to “encourage competitive companies to operate in Portugal,” and “welcomes Portuguese companies to compete in the Chinese market, so that an increasing number of competitive Portuguese groups can enter the Chinese market.”
Hu Jintao also set out the aim of doubling trade between China and Portugal by 2015.
During the visit, Millennium bcp and Banco BPI signed commercial cooperation agreements with Chinese counterparts, respectively the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China and the Bank of China, with a view to making it easier to attract financing and capital in the Chinese financial market by the Portuguese groups.
The relationships, in the mid term, are likely to involve the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China taking a stake in BCP, whilst the Portuguese press reported that negotiations between BPI and the Bank of China were more delayed.
China Power International (CPI) also announced its interest in becoming a shareholder of EDP whilst Portugal Telecom signed an agreement with Huawei Technologies boosting an existing partnership between the two countries, particularly in the supply and development of fibre optic solutions. (macauhub)