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From Site Selection magazine, November 2019

Acquisitions Lead Investment Types in 2018


The Bureau of Economic Analysis, a division of the U.S. Department of Commerce, released its annual Foreign Direct Investment in the United States report in July. Expenditures by foreign direct investors to acquire, establish, or expand U.S. businesses totaled $296.4 billion (preliminary) in 2018. Expenditures were up 8.7% from $272.8 billion (revised) in 2017 but were below the annual average of $338.1 billion for 2014–2017.

As in previous years, acquisitions of existing businesses accounted for a large majority of total expenditures. In 2018, expenditures for acquisitions were $287.3 billion, expenditures to establish new U.S. businesses were $5.3 billion, and expenditures to expand existing foreign-owned businesses were $3.8 billion. Planned total expenditures, which include both first-year and planned future expenditures, were $318.1 billion.

Expenditures by Industry, Country, and State in 2018

By industry, expenditures for new direct investment were mainly concentrated in manufacturing, which accounted for 67.4% of total expenditures, or $199.7 billion. Within manufacturing, expenditures were largest in chemical manufacturing ($142.3 billion). There were also notable expenditures in real estate, rental, and leasing ($22.1 billion) and information ($16.3 billion).

*Expansions included in 2014-2018 only. NOTE: Survey not conducted for 2009-2013
U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis

By country of ultimate beneficial owner (UBO), Germany and Ireland had the largest expenditures, but their values are suppressed due to confidentiality requirements. Canada ($32.5 billion) was the third largest investing country. By region, Europe contributed nearly three-quarters of new investment in 2018.

By U.S. state, Missouri received the largest investment, but its value is suppressed due to confidentiality requirements. New York ($63.0 billion), Texas ($31.1 billion), and California ($27.3 billion) also received significant investment.

Greenfield Expenditures

Greenfield investment expenditures — expenditures to either establish a new U.S. business or to expand an existing foreign-owned U.S. business — were $9.1 billion in 2018. Total planned expenditures until completion for greenfield investment initiated in 2018, which include both first-year and future expenditures, were $30.8 billion.

By U.S. industry, greenfield expenditures in 2018 were largest in manufacturing ($2.6 billion) and real estate, rental, and leasing ($2.6 billion).

By country of UBO, Canada ($2.4 billion) and Japan ($1.2 billion) had the largest expenditures. By U.S. state, Texas received the highest level of greenfield investment ($2 billion), followed by New York ($1.6 billion).

Employment by Newly Acquired, Established, or Expanded Foreign-owned Businesses

In 2018, employment at newly acquired, established, or expanded foreign-owned businesses in the United States was 430,600 employees. Current employment of acquired enterprises was 426,400. Total planned employment, which includes the current employment of acquired enterprises, the planned employment of newly established business enterprises when fully operational, and the planned employment associated with expansions, was 469,800.

By industry, manufacturing accounted for the largest number of employees (209,000), followed by retail trade (62,500). By country of UBO, Canada accounted for the largest number of employees (84,300), followed by the United Kingdom (68,900), and Ireland (68,300).

By U.S. state, California had the largest employment (102,000), followed by New York (55,300) and Texas (45,500). Employment for an acquired entity that operated in multiple states is attributed to the state in which it had the greatest number of employees.

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