The first in a series of roundtable discussions on Chinese investment in the UK took place in Sheffield at Sheffield Hallam University.
Atkins used the inaugural event to introduce Bill Huang; responsible for Chinese investor relations at the company. Huang, who is based in Shanghai, visited Sheffield to better understand the UK market for Chinese investors.
The event also provided city business leaders and academics with an opportunity to understand Chinese interest in the UK. This follows unprecedented investment from China in Sheffield, demonstrated last month by the city’s £1bn deal with Guodong Construction Group in Chengdu.
Philip Dyer, Atkins’ director for the Northern Powerhouse, said: “In our view, Chinese investment is crucial for Sheffield and the North of England to build the modern infrastructure to compete successfully in a global market. Today’s event, the first of a series of roundtable discussions across the region, explored the importance of the North of England’s relationship with China and highlighted some of the key challenges and opportunities around forging a positive dialogue to better promote a range of exciting opportunities to Chinese investors.”
A lively discussion reviewed a number of issues, including:
• Existing opportunities for Chinese investors, from the New Retail Quarter to the Olympic Legacy Park, complemented by Sheffield’s Chinese community, many of whom are students.
• Raising the city’s profile and utilising assets such as two first-class Universities and World Snooker Championships.
• Matching the scale of opportunities desired by Chinese investors and highlighting the benefits of Sheffield for investment, including huge growth opportunities.
• The importance of city public-private partnerships, regular contact and strong relationships to attract Chinese investment into Sheffield.
• The future of the ‘Northern Powerhouse’ and ‘Golden Era’ for UK-Chinese trade
• Atkins’ experience with Chinese clients looking to invest in the North of England and opportunities for Sheffield companies to support Chinese investors in global emerging markets.
• The outputs of the recent £1bn Guodong trade deal and what Sheffield will look like in the long-term following Chinese investment.
Bill Huang, Director, Chinese investor relations, Atkins, said: “China is keen to access emerging UK markets such as Sheffield and the North of England. That’s why I’m actively engaging with Councils, LEPs, property developers and other owners and operators of major infrastructure so we can present an attractive proposition to Chinese investors. Our roundtable event at Sheffield Hallam University provided valuable intelligence for me to be able to approach important and influential clients in China who are interested in investing in the UK.”
Attendees at the roundtable included representatives from Sheffield Hallam University, Sheffield City Council, Sheffield City Region LEP, city law firms and property developers.
Professor Chris Husbands, Vice-Chancellor of Sheffield Hallam University and member of the Global Advisory Council to Hanban, added: “The University is delighted to host this event to help highlight the many attractive investment opportunities the Sheffield City Region has to offer. Nearly 1,400 Chinese students a year study here and Sheffield Hallam benefits from a large network of over 9,000 Chinese alumni, demonstrating our key role in building closer ties. We are a strong advocate of developing even stronger links between our two countries, which will help deliver many economic and cultural benefits for all partners.”