Chinese firms look to smaller foreign buys, UBS China boss says

ZURICH (Reuters) - China’s appetite for foreign takeovers has not yet been sated, but future targets may be smaller, the head of Chinese strategy at UBS said.

“I believe, having done all this M&A, this trend is not going to stop,” UBS’s Chairman of the China Strategy Board Eugene Qian said at a roundtable with journalists.

Many Chinese companies are looking to partnerships and acquisitions abroad in order to sustain high growth rates and deliver the high quality foreign brand names sought out by China’s emerging middle class.

After a spate of landmark deals -- including the purchases of Swiss seed and chemical giant Syngenta by ChemChina and German robotics maker Kuka by Midea -- state-controlled Chinese firms are now focusing on smaller foreign transactions, according to the investment banking expert.

UBS and other Western banks are well positioned to profit from the push, he added.

UBS currently employs 1,100 people in China, and could add several hundred new jobs by 2020 in its investment bank, asset management and wealth management business by 2020, Qian said.

Switzerland’s biggest bank and the world’s largest wealth manager is looking to increase its stake in its profitable Chinese joint venture to 51 percent from currently 25 percent and is waiting for approval from Chinese authorities to do so.

Reporting by Angelika Gruber; Writing by Brenna Hughes Neghaiwi and Kirsten Donovan