| 5.2°C Dublin

Chinese will want savage deals on any buyouts

ANYONE hoping that a Chinese "wall of money" will solve all of Ireland's economic problems is likely to be disappointed.

Despite the agreement between the Chinese sovereign wealth fund CIC and the NTMA, our new friends from the east will drive a hard bargain before investing one red cent in this country.

One of the highlights of Taoiseach Enda Kenny's trip to China was the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the CIC and the NTMA, which could see the Chinese sovereign wealth fund invest in Irish infrastructure and property assets.

For a Government desperately trying to flog up to €3bn of state assets, the CIC deal must have seemed like manna from heaven.

But is it? Past experience shows that, when it comes to investing abroad, the Chinese are anything but a soft touch.

The experience of Greece, another EU country that has had to be bailed out by the EU/ECB/IMF Troika, should serve as a warning to those who imagine that Chinese investment will prove to be the answer to all of our problems.

State-owned Chinese firm Cosco paid €3.4bn for a 35-year lease on the port of Pireaus, the largest in Greece, in 2010. It immediately laid off a fifth of the workforce and halved the wages of those who kept their jobs. And in 2011 Chinese energy firm Dongfang agreed to invest up to €2bn in Greek solar energy projects.

However, one of the conditions of the deal was that all of the equipment will have to be purchased from China.

Greek shipowners are to receive up to €4bn in loans for new ships, all of which will be built in China.

If the memorandum of understanding leads to any investment in Irish assets, we can expect the Chinese to be equally hard-headed in their dealings with this country.

Sunday Indo Business