April 18, 2017 / 5:48 AM / 3 years ago

China March outbound direct investment slumps 30.1 percent as capital curbs bite

BEIJING (Reuters) - China’s non-financial outbound direct investment (ODI) slumped 30.1 percent in March from a year earlier as authorities kept a tight grip on capital outflows to help support the yuan currency and safeguard the country’s foreign exchange reserves.

FILE PHOTO: A 100 yuan banknote is placed beside a U.S. 100 dollar banknote in this illustrative photograph taken in Taipei June 20, 2010. REUTERS/Nicky Loh/File Photo

Non-financial ODI totalled $7.11 billion last month, Commerce Ministry data showed on Tuesday.

For the first three months of this year, non-financial ODI tumbled 48.8 percent to $20.54 billion from the same period last year.

Outbound investment in countries involved China’s “One Belt one Road” infrastructure initiative was $2.95 billion in the first quarter, or 14.4 percent of the total, the ministry said.

Non-financial ODI tumbled 52.8 percent in January-February from the same period last year, with amounts in the property and entertainment sectors down over 80 percent.

Dealmakers have said many Chinese firms are unable to close deals because they cannot secure official permission to transfer yuan into foreign exchange.

Merger and acquisitions involving Asian companies fell 39 percent in the first quarter of 2017 to $176 billion, the lowest level in nearly three years and highlighting a sharp pull back in overseas deals by Chinese firms, Thomson Reuters data showed. Banks’ advisory fees have taken a heavy hit as a result.

The ministry did not give the latest figures on China’s outbound property investment, but said funds mainly flowed to manufacturing, business services, software and information technology services, with manufacturing accounting for 24.7 percent of the total.

China tightened its grip on moving funds out of the country late last year as the yuan plumbed more than eight-year lows. The currency has steadied so far this year, thanks to the capital curbs and a retreat in the surging U.S. dollar.

While Beijing says it supports legitimate overseas investment, regulators have warned they would pay close attention to “irrational” investment in property, entertainment, sports and other sectors.

Earlier data showed foreign direct investment into China rose 1 percent to 226.51 billion yuan ($32.91 billion) in the first quarter from a year earlier.

Reporting by Beijing Monitoring Desk; Editing by Jacqueline Wong and Kim Coghill

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