University College London (UCL) and the UK government have launched an academy to train Chinese officials and business people in the intricacies of investing in UK infrastructure.
UCL announced the "UK-China Infrastructure Academy" three days before the UK’s National Grid said it would sell a majority stake in the UK’s gas pipe network to a team of investors, including the Chinese and Qatari state-owned entities.
Chinese companies will benefit from greater support to invest in the Northern Powerhouse and across the UK– Minister Andrew Percy
Engineering firms Arup and Aecom will be involved in the new academy, along with HSBC, KPMG and law firms. The UCL team will be led by Academic Director Dr. Chen-Yu Chang.
The academy will be hosted by the UCL Bartlett School of Construction and Project Management and will train senior business executives and policymakers.
UCL says the UK is already one of the top destinations for Chinese investment in Europe, with £4bn invested in UK infrastructure and real estate since 2012. Among the high-profile schemes is the planned Hinkley Point C nuclear power station, one-third owned by China General Nuclear Power Group.
The launch event on 5 December included speeches from UK member of parliament Andrew Percy, Minister for the Northern Powerhouse, and Lin Nianxiu, Vice Chairman of China’s National Development and Reform Commission, China’s macro-planning ministry.
"Chinese companies will benefit from greater support to invest in the Northern Powerhouse and across the UK, helping create more jobs and boosting economic growth," said Northern Powerhouse Minister Andrew Percy. "In the last year alone, foreign direct investment into the Northern Powerhouse grew at twice the national average and this new Academy will help build on this success."
On 8 December National Grid, the UK’s power network operator, confirmed that it was selling a 61% shareholding to a consortium led by Australian investment bank Macquarie in a deal that values the unit at around £13.8bn.
China’s sovereign wealth fund acquired a 9% stake in London’s Thames Water in 2012.
Image: A photograph of a gas pipe interior (National Grid/Getty)