Chinese companies made the headlines in Switzerland last year with several notable merger and acquisition (M&A) deals, including the record $43.3 billion takeover of Basel agrochemical giant Syngenta by the China National Chemical Corporation (ChemChina).
Switzerland can expect to see a lot more firms coming over from China in the coming years, Dr Liu Jiren, co-founder and chairman of leading Chinese software firm Neusoft, told swissinfo.ch at the World Economic Forum in Davos.
Neusoft set up its European HQ in Appenzell in 2009, from where it now runs operations in Germany, Finland, Romania and Israel. Attracted initially by Europe’s strong automotive industry, for which it provides software, Neusoft now wants to expand into healthcare.
“We utilize a lot of intensive R&D (research and development) in our products. We need the know-how and talent in Europe. We used to concentrate on trading [as overseas strategy] but now we are looking more intensively at co-operations,” said Liu. “If we locate R&D in Europe and manufacturing in China, we can leverage both sides.”
This is also a win-win situation for European companies who can gain access to the vast, and growing, Chinese market place, according to Liu.
“Every start-up wants the opportunity of access to China, so it makes it very easy to talk to them” he said. “A lot of European companies come to China at a very early stage. Globalisation is in their DNA.”
Chinese companies are expanding their horizons abroad as they transform their business models. The domestic Chinese market is evolving from a manufacturing-heavy model to a services-based economy, he added.
To meet this demand, Liu believes Chinese firms will seek established expertise abroad. “There will be more and more Chinese companies coming to Europe and to Switzerland,” he said. “They need to find a different direction to create new value.”
““The image of Switzerland in China is of a very stable country that is very transparent, friendly and tops all the rankings in ease of doing business.”
It also helps when diplomatic relations between the two countries are at a high point, as witnessed by the free trade agreement and the recent visit of Chinese President Xi JinPing.