China tech giants including Tencent Holdings Ltd. and Huawei Technologies Co. are boosting investment in Canadian companies with exposure to everything from electric vehicles to artificial intelligence, attracted by the country’s swelling ranks of science and technology graduates, valuations that are cheaper than the U.S., and government enticements.
“Over the last six months, I’ve probably been contacted by at least half a dozen new funds that have Chinese money,” said Janet Bannister, partner at Toronto-based Real Ventures. The venture capital firm said it raised C$180m ($142m) in fresh funds for new Canadian startups, including an undisclosed amount from Shenzhen-based Tencent.
While China is Canada’s second-largest trading partner, Chinese investment in the country shrank to an annual average of C$1.21bn in the 2013-2017 period, from C$8.16bn in the previous five years, when the Asian country was pouring money into the energy patch. Justin Trudeau has vowed to reverse that trend.
Still, tech is becoming increasingly attractive for China, though the values may be tiny compared to the $15.1bn takeover of oil company Nexen Inc. by Cnooc Ltd. in 2012.
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