Chinese companies were encouraged by the Belt and Road initiative to go abroad and have provided economic and social benefits in Central and Eastern Europe, Wang Mingtai, a top executive of CEFC Group Europe company said in an interview with Xinhua.
A villa located in the six district of Prague was the former residence of Tomas Masaryk, the respected founding father and first President of Czechoslovakia, now the clubhouse of CEFC China Energy Company Limited (CEFC) in Czech Republic. When it was completed in 2015, Czech President Milos Zeman attended the ceremony and presented a gift, a horseshoe, with a wish for Chinese companies to go further.
Czech is a key location along the Belt and Road route and was one of the earliest countries in the region to sign the memorandum of understanding to promote the Belt and Road initiative.
CEFC, a Chinese privately-owned Fortune Global 500 company has emerged as one of China's biggest investors in Czech, with the total investment of more than 14 billion yuan( 2.1 billion U.S. dollars). Inside four years, CEFC has done a series of deals in different areas, including financial services, energy, manufacturing, aviation and tourism, providing 5,000 local jobs.
Wang told reporter that in recent years, CEFC speed up overseas layout, aiming at Czech as a important strategic spot to serve national strategy and expand its overseas interests.
A deal to take a 50 percent stake in Czech's J&T Finance Group was witnessed by the heads of the two countries in 2014. Since then, the company found more and more business opportunities in Czech. "As the company's influence expanded, in fact, many opportunities come up to us," Wang added.
Among CEFC's investments, the deals to buy a majority stake in brewer Pivovary Lobkowicz Group and the acquisition of the oldest Czech football club SK Slavia Praha may seem like not the "most economical" choices as the two entities are in financial distress.
The company made decisions for the respect of Czech culture and traditions. "Brewing and football are associated with Czech culture and lifestyle. So we invested and saved the entities," Wang said.
"Our participation has brought the football club back to life. Local fans sincerely thanked us," Wang said, adding that, "These two acquisitions also help to narrow the distance between the Czechs and China."
With beer and football, CEFC will also actively create platforms for biliteral cultural exchanges to promote friendship and cooperation.
CEFC is the pioneer of investment in Czech. With the ongoing development of the Belt and Road initiative, more and more Chinese tourists and Chinese enterprises are coming to Czech, and the future mutually beneficial win-win "synergies" will continue to expand, Wang said.