You've seen our Top North American Deals of 2018. But what about that big area known as the rest of the world?
From the vantage point of high impact from capex and job creation, Chinese FDI may be declining in the U.S., but it's still flowing robustly into other global regions, especially in the southern hemisphere. So is capital from the Gulf states of the Middle East. If you've heard that India and Africa are the next big things, it appears you may already be late to the party. Eastern Europe, meanwhile, continues to garner its fair share of major investments.
Measured by an index awarding points for high capital expenditure and high job creation, then evaluated for their overall projected economic impact, here, in alphabetical order, are the Top Deals beyond North America as tracked by Site Selection in 2018.
In September, Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) announced development plans for this community in Abu Dhabi’s Al Dhafra region that will essentially double the population over the next 15 years to more than 50,000 and create thousands of skilled jobs in what ADNOC calls the world’s largest integrated refining and petrochemicals complex. As documented by Arabian Business, the industrial operation will grow in parallel with the city, whose new motto will be "Where Opportunity Lives." In addition to various community amenities that include a cricket field and health centers, the company will invest in 3,000 new residential units in a 21st century version of the company town.
“Our investment in the further development of Ruwais City is an investment in our people, our most important asset," said Dr. Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, UAE Minister of State and ADNOC Group CEO. "It is not just about enhancing the city’s infrastructure; it is about improving residents’ quality of life as we continue to build a strong, sustainable community and create greater value for the benefit of the local economy, the region and the nation."
According to its own website, this project — not the one described in Ruwais, Abu Dhabi, above — will be the world's largest integrated refinery and petrochemicals complex. Either way, they're both receiving nearly the same massive investment. "The Ratnagiri Refinery & Petrochemicals Ltd. (RRPCL) is a project of great national importance which provides for the future energy security of the country and its people," its partners say. "The project when implemented will contribute to the growth of GDP in the state of Maharashtra by over 10% and would enable the state to becoming a trillion-dollar economy rapidly."
Spreading over 15,000 acres, the RRPCL complex — which has faced some political and local community opposition due in part to feared damage to its fishing community and to the cultivation of the area's famous Alphonso mangoes — is slated to house over 50 inter-connected units, with storage and port facilities taking up 1,000 of those acres. Employment during construction will number in many tens of thousands, with direct employment at the project upon completion estimated at nearly 20,000.
As documented by Global Construction Review in December, UAE-based investor Gamal Al Ghurair was said to have concluded a deal with the National Bank of Egypt to reclaim and cultivate 75,600 hectares (186,805 acres) in the Nile Valley where the world's largest beet sugar factory will be built. He is managing director of Dubai’s El Canal Sugar Co., which has a sugar refinery in Jebel Ali, Dubai, and which will invest in the new project along with Dubai investor Murban. Minya (population 257,000) is located some 280 km. (168 miles) upriver from Cairo.
The project has been simmering for around five years. In addition to the direct jobs, indirect job creation through growing contracts is projected to total around 50,000. Infrastructure work is already well under way, including related major water well drilling nationally by China's ZPEC drilling company. According to Xinhua news agency, the factory will be up and running by February 2022 and will require about 5.5 million tons of sugar beets per year.
This new plant, announced in July 2018 and occupying a 400-hectare (988-acre) parcel, will churn out 150,000 electric and conventional vehicles a year. In a press release, BMW described Debrecen as "the ideal place" for the group to expand its production network, citing good infrastructure, suitable logistics connections, proximity to an established supplier network, and a qualified local labor pool. The location was selected over several other European cities, reported the Budapest Business Journal.
In a March 2019 interview, Hungarian Minister of Economic Relations and Foreign Affairs Péter Szijjártó told Site Selection Editor in Chief Mark Arend that he personally negotiated with BMW over 14 months. "I usually negotiate with foreign investors directly," he said, noting his hiring of former Teva and Nokia executives to be on his team because investors have more trust in those with private-sector experience. "And I’m very happy to do it." The automotive sector accounts for more than 29% of Hungary's industrial output. "The biggest companies now are locating their R&D facilities for electromobility and autonomous vehicles to Hungary," Szijjártó said. "We are now building a test environment that will be unique in Europe."
This project is just half of a major outlay BOE is pouring into two projects in Chongqing and Wuhan. The Chongqing project will build a sixth-generation AMOLED flexible-display production line, according to a company filing to the Shenzhen Stock Exchange documented by China's Caixin Global news service. BOE is one of China's leading competitors in the high-stakes display screen sector, competing with the likes of SK Hynix (see below), TCL (see below again), Samsung and others. The company already operates a similarly expensive manufacturing campus (its first) in Chengdu, with another coming soon to Mianyang.
"Propelling BOE's ascent is state largess," reported Bloomberg in April. "It's inked deals with officials across the country, including government-backed entities that agreed to help it raise at least 20.5 billion yuan [US$3 billion] for another plant in southern China's Fuzhou. Other help came in the form of land, energy and favorable policies."
This new electronics manufacturing and avionics assembly facility will occupy 36 acres at a state-run aerospace park at Devanahalli near the airport in north Bengaluru, state officials confirmed. "Though the US-based aircraft maker's investment proposal was cleared by the previous Congress government in December 2017," reported Indo-Asian News Service, "approvals and formalities got delayed due to the state Assembly elections and formation of the new coalition government by the Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) and the Congress in May."
Reports say the facility will be Boeing's second largest after its engineering and technology center in Seattle, Washington. Reversing the usual sequence of manufacturing followed by R&D, Boeing has operated an R&D center in Bengaluru for 10 years.
This Chinese battery maker (CATL) will set up its first European production site in this university town. The project is directly tied to a major contract to supply lithium-ion batteries to BMW, whose officials have said the plant will supply more than one-third of some $4.7 billion worth of battery cells the carmaker will source from CATL over the next few years.
“We want to supply all the OEMs (manufacturers) in Europe,” Chairman Robin Zeng said in a story filed by Reuters in July. “If the Thuringia project is successful then we can consider other locations.” The Reuters report also cited remarks by German Chancellor Angela Merkel to the effect that she welcomed Chinese investment, but would like to see Germany's own companies step up: “If we could do it ourselves, then I would not be upset,” she said.
In a plan with parallel's to Dangote Group's major investments in Nigeria, Devki (run by steel tycoon Narendra Raval) is out to construct cement plants in Kenya in order to reduce prices and therefore help major construction move forward. According to Forbes, the company now employs more than 4,000 employees and is the largest building materials company in East and Central Africa. Each of these two plants will have a capacity of around 750 million metric tons per year.
This maker of viscose staple fiber (VSF) already operates four plants in India, two of which are also in Gujarat. "In its proposal, the Aditya Birla Group firm has said the proposed expansion of VSF production will cater to the increased demand for manmade fibers in the country," reported Hindu BusinessLine last year. "Among major staple fibres, VSF will have better growth due to perfect fit for higher growing categories in apparel retail segments like women and kids wear, it added."
Grasim ranks among India's largest private-sector companies, with consolidated net revenues in FY2018 of US$8.6 billion. Adita Birla Group is a $44.3 billion corporation with 120,000 employees and overseas operations in a wide swath of industrial sectors across 35 countries.
In another example of big-dollar Chinese spending in Africa, this company's Sukulu development project on the Uganda-Kenya border will make fertilizer at a site in the the Uganda-China Guangdong Free Zone of International Cooperation, overlooking the Osukuru hills. "Earlier feasibility studies say the hills contain some 75 million tons of phosphorite, which is used to make fertilizer, 213 million tons of iron ore, 429 tons of niobium, and 1 million tons of rare earth minerals," reported Uganda Business News in August 2018. Manufacture of steel products is also planned to take advantage of the mined resources.
"The money was mobilized from the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC), part of the $60 billion investment package in Africa that Chinese President Xi Jinping announced during the China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) Summit in South Africa in 2015," the Ugandan news service reported, noting that feasibility studies for the project began in 2012.
China's Haier signed an agreement with the Uttar Pradesh government to set up the company's second industrial park in the state over the next four years, in two phases. With this development, the company is expected to create around 4,000 new direct employment opportunities along with over 10,000 indirect jobs, said reports.
"Industrial Development Minister Satish Mahana said that UP was the largest domestic market in India," reported YourStory Media, as well as the largest exporter of consumer electronics in the country, noting that the addition of Haier would help solidify Noida as a global cluster of electronics manufacturing. The facility — which will make a range of products including refrigerators and washing machines as well as LED TVs — will occupy 123 acres and is expected to begin operations by 2020.
This two-city, two-phase project will begin with an R&D center in the Kesarapalli village in Gannavaram, according to Indian publication Business Today, building up to more than 4,000 IT professionals over seven years. The second phase will occupy a 20-acre campus in Amaravati, the new capital city of Andhra Pradesh. State leaders noted it is the first major IT corporation to invest in a big way since state bifurcation into the new Andhra Pradesh and Telangana in 2014.
HCL Technologies is now India's third largest software services provider, having surpassed Wipro with recent quarterly revenues of more than $2 billion. "India's top five software services providers — Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), Cognizant Technology Solutions, Infosys, Wipro and HCL Technologies — collectively added 24,047 people to their workforce in the first quarter of this fiscal," Business Today reported.
India's largest motorcycle manufacture, based in New Delhi, will set up its sixth Indian plant at this location. The company also operates plants in Colombia and in Bangladesh.
“In addition to building a state-of-the-art facility, we are committed to creating a world class manufacturing ecosystem in the region, with a base of globally benchmarked vendors and suppliers, which will together generate over 12,000 new jobs, thereby accelerating the socio-economic progress in the state," said Pawan Munjal, chairman and managing director, Hero MotoCorp.
In June 2018, Nissan signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Government of Kerala to establish a new global center for digital operations in India. The Nissan Digital Hub will be the first of a number of software and IT development centers in Asia, Europe and North America that the company says will "comprehensively transform Nissan’s business by placing digital technology at the heart of key operations and services."
The first center will initially be in Technopark – owned by the government of Kerala in Trivandrum — before moving to a permanent location in the city. “The new Digital Hub in Kerala will serve as an important engine to drive Nissan’s global digital transformation,” said Tony Thomas, corporate vice president and chief information officer at Nissan. Together with its Alliance partner Renault, Nissan already has a large manufacturing plant outside Chennai with a potential annual capacity of 480,000 vehicles for the domestic market and exports. A global Alliance R&D center, also in Chennai, employs 7,000 engineers.
“Today, this landmark announcement marks the arrival of the first global brand to Kerala,” said Shri Pinarayi Vijayan, chief minister for the government of Kerala. “The center brings a great opportunity for both Nissan and the region. It will not only provide Nissan access to a skilled and dedicated workforce but also allow Kerala to showcase its significant potential as a base for global business."
Two years after Amazon India placed its largest campus outside of its U.S. home in Hyderabad, Qualcomm has done the same. As Times of India reported in October 2018, Qualcomm's Telangana campus will be its largest outside of the U.S., with this first phase encompassing around 1.7 million sq. ft., joining other Qualcomm operations in
Hyderabad, Bengaluru and Chennai.
“We have Apple, Amazon, Google, Microsoft, Facebook and now Qualcomm," said Telangana Minister for IT and Industries K.T. Rama Rao in a statement. "This list will only increase as there are a few more in the pipeline that we are working actively with. This is indeed a big boost to the state of Telangana, as well as to the electronics and semiconductors industry."
This expansion of the company’s existing manufacturing operations will include a new in vitro diagnostics facility, and enable in-country manufacturing capabilities for clinical chemistry and immunoassay reagents. With its opening, Shanghai will become the most integrated base of innovation for the company, covering manufacturing and R&D for imaging diagnostics and lab diagnostics products.
“This investment demonstrates the company’s continued commitment to address the evolving needs in the Chinese market and in healthcare markets across the globe,” said Franz Walt, president, Laboratory Diagnostics, Siemens Healthineers. China is the second largest market for Siemens Healthineers. According to George Chan, president, Greater China, Siemens Healthineers, “The opening of this facility strengthens our ability to support Chinese healthcare reform as we deliver better outcomes at a lower cost to our customers.”
The Germany conglomerate in March 2018 signed a long-term agreement for lease of land in Goole, East Riding of Yorkshire, with plans to establish a new state-of-the-art factory to manufacture and commission trains. Around 1,700 indirect jobs are expected to be created throughout the UK supply chain. The strategy was cemented in November 2018 when Siemens signed a contract with Transport for London to design and build 94 tube trains. Final plans for the rolling stock plant were submitted in April 2019. The first phase of the manufacturing facilities is expected to open in 2023, with the development to be fully operational in 2025.
Will Wilson, managing director, Rolling Stock, Siemens Mobility Limited, called this latest stage of the project " the result of positive dialogue with the local authority, statutory bodies and other stakeholders, including community representatives. As a company we already have strong links in the local area. In 2016 Siemens opened a £310- million turbine blade factory in Hull, creating 1,000 local jobs to service offshore wind farms. This latest development would further deepen much needed commitment to the region, with a key focus on the local supply chain. It will establish a lasting legacy of related skills to further the UK’s ability to compete on a global scale.”
The Seoul-based giant in July 2018 announced it will construct a new semiconductor fabrication plant at its headquarters to respond to growing demand for memory chips and "to secure a future growth engine." Construction on the 53,000-sq.-m. (570,505-sq.-ft.) site began in late 2018 and is slated to be completed in October 2020.
SK Hynix continues to expand its production capacity with the M14 in Icheon as well as a new fab in Cheongju that opened in October 2018, and the expansion of cleanroom space at its Wuxi fab in China. In February 2019, the company announced it would spend $107 billion on four more factories at a 4.5-million-sq.-m. (sq.-ft.) site south of Seoul, beginning in 2022. "SK Hynix said the investment plan, subject to approval from local authorities, will see over 50 domestic and foreign suppliers join at the site in Yongin, 40 km. from the capital," Reuters reported.
As reported by industry publication Aluminium Insider, this project backed by the People's Republic of China will rise in Tajik Aluminium's (Talco) hometown of Tursunzoda in the western region of Tajikistan, and have a capacity of 500,000 metric tons a year. As it is with every other aluminum smelter in the world, electric power is paramount: Moving forward with the project is tied to long-awaited progress with construction of the Rogun Dam on the Vakhsh River — first proposed half a century ago.
"Regional experts see the plan as an expansion of China’s influence over its western neighbor," reported Aluminium Insider. "Beijing owns approximately half of the country’s debt, and Tajikistan is situated over a great deal of bauxite that the country has been unable to harvest and sell due to a lack of finances and, until lately, a prohibitively low price for aluminium."
This new manufacturing facility will occupy 169 acres on the Yamuna Expressway, and will double the company's production capacity in the country as it competes with such companies as Samsung for its share of the mobile phone market. The agreement was reached with the Yamuna Expressway Industrial Authority.
With more than 5,000 employees, the Greater Noida plant has a capacity of manufacturing almost 25 million products in a year. Vivo entered India in 2014, and today operates more than 550 company-owned service centers in the country. “The expansion of our state-of-the-art Greater Noida facility reflects Vivo’s commitment to India, and signifies the success of the Make in India program,” said Jerome Chen, CMO, Vivo India. “Our latest flagship — the NEX — has been manufactured at this facility which has been made possible through our consistent efforts and commitment towards making the region a manufacturing hub for our smartphones.”
This investment is part of VW's global plans, announced in November 2018, to spend $50 billion on new plants, electric cars, autonomous driving and mobility services through 2023, which entails moving Passat production to the Czech Republic. Further plans announced early this year revealed the company will build the next generation of electric vehicles based on its Modular Electric Drive Toolkit (MEB) at eight plants in Europe, Asia and the U.S., including this Czech location, where Skoda also will build at least one of its own new EV lines.
Skoda is also one of the largest IT companies in the Czech Republic, and announced in September 2018 it would hire 80 new positions and expand its data centre at its Mladá Boleslav HQ into the largest privately owned computing and data storage center in the Czech Republic. Once the expansion is completed, the data center will have a computing capacity of 15 petaFLOPS, which equates to 15 quadrillion computing operations per second.
Yes, it's yet another Chinese company discovering opportunity in Africa. This time around, it's a textile plant on a 40-hectare (-acre) parcel adjacent to the Dire Dawa Industrial Park. The company is pursuing a second project in the town of Adama, while also planning to invest in cotton production in the country as well.
Wuxi first signed an agreement with the Ethiopian government in November 2017. Production is expected to begin in Dire Dawa by the end of 2019.
Adam Bruns has served as managing editor of Site Selection magazine since February 2002. In the course of reporting hundreds of stories for Site Selection, Adam has visited companies and communities around the globe. A St. Louis native who grew up in the Kansas City suburbs, Adam is a 1986 alumnus of Knox College, and resided in Chicago; Midcoast Maine; Savannah, Georgia; and Lexington, Kentucky, before settling in the Greater Atlanta community of Peachtree Corners, where he lives with his wife and daughter.