China's investment in Italy scrutinised

Matteo Renzi meets with Chinese President Xi Jinping

ROME – An official report on Chinese investments prepared for Premier Matteo Renzi warns to proceed with caution as major deals in transport and communications are on the verge of being agreed.

The report, initially composed ahead of Renzi’s visit to Beijing in June, cautions against a witch hunt but predicts that the large amount of Chinese capital entering the economy could later prove problematic. The corporation China Cnr is currently bidding for stakes in Ansaldo Breda, a transport company, and Ansaldo Sts, which operates signalling systems. The companies are controlled by the finance ministry, and as of yet it is not known whether the government will favour the Chinese bids or other offers from Japanese and French investors.  

The Chinese bids for these companies are known to be particularly generous, however the intelligence report advises against allowing Chinese investments in areas of strategic importance, such as defence and technology. It also warns against investment in other more traditional sectors which are increasingly embracing more complex technology, such as food and fashion.

Chinese investment is not an unattractive prospect, in the case of Ansaldo Breda, the scale of China Cnr’s operations would offer a huge opportunity for growth and improved access to the global markets. Interest in Italy from Chinese investors is at an all-time high, as the country turns its attention away from the US to Europe, the peninsular is viewed as a gateway to the rest of the Eurozone.

In October, the anticipated visit of Chinese Premier Li Kequiang to Italy will further intensify the scrutiny of relations between the two governments, and the two economies.